April 2017 brings with it the biggest reformation of the water industry in living memory. Currently, non-domestic users are only able to use their local supplier for all of their water needs, irrespective of the level of service they are receiving. Post April the water market will become deregulated, allowing businesses, charities and public sector organisations the freedom to select the water supplier that best fits their needs.
Whilst this change has been on the cards for a long time, Richard Roberts, Account Manager at IMServ Europe Limited, believes that some businesses are making the mistake of waiting until the deadline before securing their new water contract. By seeking timely advice now, companies can secure the best deal available to them, before the big rush to make the switch next year.
“We’ve seen the success of water deregulation in Scotland already, with some companies reporting savings of up to 30% on their water bills,” commented Richard. “However, some companies are lagging behind their competition and holding back on signing on the dotted line. These businesses may find themselves scrabbling for a favourable deal come April and accepting a contract which is not necessarily the best fit for them.”
In order to prepare businesses and suppliers alike, Market Operator Service Limited (MOSL) is running a ‘Shadow Market’ in the run up to deregulation in April. MOSL’s role is to deliver the operational capabilities required to support the running of the deregulated market. The Shadow Market is a transition phase and will simulate live services to allow systems, processes and data collection to be trialled without commercial risk.
Deregulation is coming regardless of whether companies actively choose to take part in the Shadow Market or not. Companies that don’t prepare, or choose not to review their water supplier, may find themselves automatically migrated onto a service which is unsuitable for their business. Additionally, as some operators are leaving the market altogether, some businesses may find that they are passed onto a service provider not of their choosing.
IMServ, one of the UK’s largest energy and data management providers, has been offering water efficiency services as part of its portfolio for some time. It has been encouraging its customers to make the most of the Shadow Market, so that they can test the systems and processes which will come into force with deregulation.
Richard continued: “Although it is still too early to determine the long-term success that water deregulation will have on the UK market, the Shadow Market is off to a promising start. The true benefit that businesses are reaping by taking part is the freedom to test out processes and systems without commercial consequences. Water companies are able to trial how meter readings will work, experiment with tariff changes and switch suppliers, but no money will be transferred during this period as contracts will not commence until April 2017.”
“Although April may feel like it’s just around the corner, there is still plenty of time for those offering water services to ensure their customers experience smooth sailing during the switch. Ultimately, the Shadow Market is a chance for the main participants to reassure themselves that the UK water market is prepared for this change, has looked at the effect that deregulation has had on the Scottish market and taken learnings from the process.