Ofgem has written to network companies, suppliers and metering companies to warn them to take action to improve the quality of the data they hold on customers.
The regulator said, “Poor quality data has repeatedly been identified as a risk to proper operation of the retail market, and has been a drag on switching quality for some time. We require significant improvements to be made to existing industry data.”
The quality of data among utilities has been a concern for some time, with data gaps and meters assigned to the wrong users. Some poor data dates back to the era before the industry was privatised. Other problems have arisen over time, for example in new housing developments where plot numbers are mistranslated into house numbers or meter records.
A major initiative to speed up switching has brought the perennial issue to the fore. Ofgem says “Our current expectation is that the new switching arrangements will be ready to go-live in early 2021″ but it expects to design, test and build faster switching architecture before then. It has called on companies to allocate resources to improving data – and to require their contractors to do the same – well in advance of that process.
The regulator said it would continue to actively monitor progress on the issue, saying “successful implementation of faster switching is a key priority for Ofgem, and will be a key component of the retail energy market in future.”