The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has published a statement announcing measures proposed by the Energy Secretary to give the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) greater powers and to enhance the rights of energy consumers. The aspects being considered by the Energy Secretary include whether competition is being hindered by the offering of cheaper deals online (and the Energy Secretary has asked Ofgem to look into this) and giving Ofgem new powers to require companies to provide potentially unlimited consumer redress for losses arising from a company breaching a licence condition, in addition to the current power of Ofgem to fine companies up to 10% of their annual turnover.
Under the proposed measures, companies will no longer be able to block action by forcing Ofgem to seek a second opinion from the Competition Commission and Ofgem will instead be permitted to take a decision which may then be appealed (which will also be open to small energy companies and Consumer Focus). This change is due to come into force by the end of the year, subject to Parliamentary approval. Another proposed measure includes a right to switch energy suppliers within three weeks once the cooling off period has expired for all customers who wish to change energy supplier and energy suppliers will be under a new obligation to speed up their switching processes (overseen by Ofgem).
A working group will also be established to examine the potential for collective purchasing and switching in the energy market and to review any barriers to helping consumers collaborating and getting a better deal.