The new deregulated water market is a fast-flowing situation so expect quite a few developments in the weeks running up to the market launching.
For now, industry regulator Ofwat and the Government Open Water programme remain upbeat. They maintain confidence in preparations for the 1st April 2017 “go live” date. While there is skepticism from many quarters over how accurate this view is, at this stage we should take the guidance offered by the regulators. The feeling on the ground – and the opinion of many of those already involved in making the market – is slightly more pessimistic. We only need to look to the June referendum and US election to note that “official guidance” and opinion polls are sometimes seriously flawed – and the sentiment of the masses provides a more accurate barometer.
We know already: the shadow market has been operating since the start of October 2016; not all Wholesalers have provided their pricing to the MOSL system (market operator); customer/business data is not up-to-date – leading to errors for the foreseeable future; we’re awaiting the Secretary of State’s communication that the market is fit for release; plus – individuals and companies may already be contacting business customers to recommend contracting now – so you need to proceed with caution.
Our opinion is that it’s not possible at this stage to provide solid recommendations to contract with any supplier or retail partner. The prices aren’t known and hence any discounts are simply guesses. The position will start to solidify as we continue through February.
So what are the options?
- You could do nothing and remain on the retail tariff. This won’t be particularly punitive in the first instance, but is likely to be an increase on what you pay this year.
- You can go to market early and take your chances that the pricing is as good as it is going to get.
- You can sit back, assess the suppliers on offer… and push the button when the initial dust has settled.