Publication - Minutes

Energy Consumers Commission: July 2020

Published: 1 Mar 2021
Date of meeting: 15 Jul 2020
Date of next meeting: 12 Oct 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 15 July 2020.

Published:
1 Mar 2021
Energy Consumers Commission: July 2020

Attendees and apologies

Attendees

Commission Members:

  • Lewis Shand Smith (LSS), Chair
  • Frazer Scott (FS), Energy Action Scotland
  • Kate Morrison (KM), Citizens Advice Scotland
  • Dan Van der Horst (DVdH), University of Edinburgh
  • Lucy Gillie (LG), South Seeds
  • Suzy Goodsir (SG), Greener Kirkcaldy
  • Carol Masheter (CM), Soirbheas
  • Lindsey Johnson (LJ), Thaw Orkney

Scottish Government (SG):

  • Peter Brearley (PB), Consumer Policy and Interventions (secretariat)
  • Jamie Macleod (JM), Consumer Policy and Interventions (secretariat)
  • Lewis Todd (LT), Energy Strategy and Coordination

Items and actions

Introductions 

Overview of the Commission’s remit –  (paper 1)

LSS gave an overview of the role and remit of the commission in relation to the Strategic Energy Advisory Board.

Diversity discussion

We moved on to a discussion of diversity in relation to the membership. This includes consideration of race, gender etc.

It was also raised that DVdH is the only academic in the commission

DVdH -  This issue (referring to diversity overall)  is one we should be aware of. There is a need to engage with underrepresented groups on a continual basis. This is something to keep in mind and opportunities will arise organically. 

KM - Raised the issue that the diversity issue is important. Any research will need to sample and engage with this.

LG has relevant experience here. South Seeds’ work has been informed by the diversity of the area. There may be a need for involvement of further groups however to ensure full engagement with relevant issues.

Action:

  • PB and JM to monitor this as the commission progresses

Remit discussion

KM raised a lack of interaction with the English, Welsh and NI counter-parts in the remit. Building on this, LSS raised the clean energy for all package on an EU level.

Action:

  • add devolved and international considerations to remit

DVdH reiterated his point that the commission should revisit the remit as we go using a flexible approach.

FS asked whether there is any additional work that’s not in the workplan expected of the body? E.G. reporting etc. JM suggested that a review prior Consumer Scotland being established by September 2021 would be useful. Also beneficial to have an engaged and ongoing relationship between ECC and SG aside from the meeting.

LSS raised a point that the commission shouldn’t  be reacting to government actions instead we want to be proactive in engaging.

KM raised the need to bring in Ofgem CMA etc. This will benefit the commission in being fully informed by the wider landscape.

JM suggested that focussed engagement meetings on specific themes could be useful.

KM noted that a CAS report on energy networks will be published shortly

Discussion of draft workplan – (paper 2)

LSS introduced a discussion of the commission’s workplan overall.

LG -  broadly happy with the workplan as it stands

KM - debt will not be felt for 2-3 months and acting before this may risk missing a focus on the most essential areas.

KM also raised the issue that the workplan is very current but there is a need to touch on the macro-issues. RIIO-2 is a key example of this.

It was raised that possible expansion of the technological engagement point could cover this. Smart meters are potentially a focus here. 

SG - Restricted meters should be on the workplan as this is a key area of detriment for consumers. Our Power highlighted tariff issues clearly in their work.

A question was raised about how the workplan refinement process will work.

PB - drafts will be shared with the commission during August with an aim to finalise a draft for consultation by end of August.

JM gave an intro to tender/procurement process. This will be directed by the commission using SG procurement processes.

Actions:

  • PM to share details of these frameworks
  • PM to summarise procurement process and send it to commissioners

KM – The commission would benefit from working on common understanding of consumer pathways to be in regards to net zero – far future scanning (10/20 years). 

LG - Agree with the above in infographic form would be useful.

JM – There may be a role for the ECC to feed into Energy Strategy updates.

CM raised restricted meters and suggested that buy in from suppliers is useful and possibly essential. 

FS – Vulnerability section should also consider off–grid consumers otherwise the ECC would limit its remit considerably.

KM - CAS have done work on unregulated markets. Support from suppliers can be good independent of regulation. CAS also provide supplier performance ratings.
JM - Stressed the need to avoid duplication.

Break 

Overview of energy landscape – (paper 5)

It was highlighted that  COSLA and Energy Ombudsman should be included as national level stakeholders

Data sources and information sharing - (paper 3)

The commission suggested a variety of data sources not included in the initial paper. These will be added to a future version

  • warmworks data - HES
  • consumer energy and focus reports - the National Archive
  • CITA England and Wales data 
  • Ofgem supplier complaints/Ombudsman complaints data
  • Ofgem data hub including infographics
  • local energy plans

The commission requested Ofgem data on self-disconnection 

FS - Industry investment in activities may be inconsistent between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Data on this would be worthwhile 

LSS – raised the possibility of putting pressure on Ofgem and other relevant bodies to achieve this.

Building a network of grassroots organisations – (paper 4)

LSS set out thinking on this in line with Paper 4.

SG mentioned that CES are doing a lot of work in this area. 

FS raised that the focus is on geographic communities. Vulnerable consumers tend to join communities of interest though.

Action:

  • DVdH  will explore options for bringing on students to assist

AOB 

Actions

  • PB to establish google docs for member’s collaboration on ECC work
  • PB to send poll to establish next date for commission by late August
  • PB/JM to monitor diversity issues as the commission progresses
  • PB to summarise procurement process and frameworks and send to members
  • PB to redraft data document to include additional resources
  • PB to redraft remit to include interactions with devolved/international organisations
  • PB to redraft ‘Energy Landscape’ document around commission comments
  • PB/JM to draft workplan and consumer vision taking on board ECC comments and share draft for comment in early August
  • DVdH explore options for bringing on students to assist with network mapping