Independent regulatory bodies were set up by the Government to regulate the energy, water and communication markets as they opened up to competition. Each market has its own set of regulations but the general responsibilities of all regulators are to encourage competition, promote value for money and protect people’s rights and safe access to the products. Regulators also monitor and report on each utility company’s service performance.
Application procedures for new connections are mainly influenced by the above regulations and all companies must be able to justify their charges, operate fairly and work to set standards of service. The three market regulators are:-
Ofgem (Office of the Gas and Electric Markets) www.ofgem.co.uk
Ofgem’s main responsibilities are to promote competition in the supply market of these two industries and protect consumers. Ofgem also regulates the monopoly companies that own and operate the UK’s gas and electricity networks such as EDF Energy Network and Southern Gas Networks. They also regulate the UK’s four transmission companies responsible for putting the gas and electricity into the various network systems. (In England and Wales this is National Grid for both fuels).
Ofwat (Office of Water) www.ofwat.gov.uk
Ofwat regulates the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales. Similar to Ofgem it encourages competition, promotes value for money for customers and monitors the supply companies’ service performance. There are no separate network operators to be regulated, as the piping infrastructure is looked after by the various water companies.
Ofcom (Office of Communications) www.ofcom.org.uk
Ofcom regulates the UK’s broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless communications sectors. Ofcom’s role in relation to telecommunications is to regulate the standards of service provided by the various telephone and cable supply companies as well as the operation of Openreach BT, the UK’s national telephone network provider.
Note: Regulators no longer get directly involved in disputes between companies and customers. Each market has separate organisations that act as ombudsmen.