Ofgem has recently issued a non-infringement decision in relation to its investigation into EdF's decision to withdraw data collection and data aggregation services (meter data services) from electricity suppliers not associated to EDF. Energywatch and two suppliers had complained that EdF's withdrawal of these services foreclosed the electricity supply market and constituted an abuse of its dominant position.
Ofgem found that EdF did not, in actual fact, hold a dominant position in any of the relevant markets and as such, could not be in breach of the Chapter II prohibition (abuse of dominance).
Ofgem identified three separate, relevant markets in this case: i) the market for data retrieval services for domestic/NHH customers (gas and electricity) across areas significantly wider than ex PES regions and potentially national; ii) the market for data processing services for NHH consumers across Great Britain; and iii) the market for data aggregation services for NHH consumers across Great Britain. The geographic market for data retrieval services was narrower than the other markets as it involved visits to customers' premises whilst data processing and aggregation could be performed remotely and centrally.
EdF's market share for data processing and data aggregation was around 10%, well below the 40% figure that is generally used as a starting point to assess dominance. In relation to data retrieval services, EdF's market share fell below the 40% figure when the geographic scope of the market was taken as the ex PES area plus a quarter of the neighbouring PES area. This coupled with the availability of alternative suppliers of data retrieval services and low barriers to entry lead Ofgem to find that EdF was not dominant in either of the three markets.
As there was no finding of dominance, Ofgem did not consider whether the withdrawal of the services would have otherwise constituted an abuse. It did stress, however, that as the electricity supply market was highly competitive EdF would continue to face strong competition and so, the possibility of consumer harm arising from EdF's conduct was considered remote.