Government energy support schemes need more detail

Government schemes designed to help the public cope with rising energy bills are extremely difficult for utilities to implement because the basic details come much later.

This is according to Christina Scott, Chief Product and Technology Officer of Ovo Energy, speaking exclusively to computing Recently.

“Implementing the support that the government offers may sound easy, but in practice there is a whole world of complexity. Schemes are announced and the details come later, so there is a storm as to how they should be delivered.

“We have to ensure that the right security is in place and protect against fraud for example,” Scott added.

She was referring to the Energy Bills Support Scheme announced by the government earlier this year, where consumers can apply for money to help pay bills.

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“The scheme was announced in April. We have not received the details of the mechanisms and reporting we need to provide back by the end of August.

“It’s not that we don’t know about the scheme, but the audit trail and what is expected of us is opaque. This may not sound like a problem but say for example you pay for your energy through a pre-paid meter and I Do I not have your bank details, that means I need to give you a voucher under the scheme.

“So I need a way to ensure that it goes to you, and that the person using the voucher is the right person. And we do this simultaneously for millions of customers. There are millions of exceptions to be worked out though.

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“Then there are timings, how long you can take to carry out the various steps you have to go through, the reporting, the audit trails.”

However, she admitted that the government should not be blamed for these issues.

“It is not the government’s fault. They are trying to do something in a short time and if not it is too late. We need help now.”

Scott also talked about the actions Ovo is taking to help its customers.

“It’s a positive that for the first time everyone is really thinking about their energy usage. We’ve developed a product called ‘Energy Tracker’ that breaks down your energy usage so you can see how it’s used in your house, and then it gives you Tips on how to use less energy.

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“No energy customers can reduce means they save money. It throws up things like fifteen percent of the energy appliances use is when they are on standby. When it comes to smart homes the vision would be to provide insight to customers and manage usage on On their behalf. This means doing things like charging electronics at the point when the grid has the lowest carbon intensity, and that would also lower tariffs.”

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