Ofgem launches revised Sandbox, saying to innovators ‘talk to us any time’

Ofgem has opened a new revised Sandbox service that will allow innovators with new energy supply proposals to contact the regulator. It has abandoned the application windows used in the previous Sandbox and instead said innovators can discuss proposals at any time.

Ofgem stressed that the Sandbox was not just for those familiar with the industry, but for any innovators who want to offer something different but are facing a ‘rule-based’ barrier. It said, “We’re happy to work with innovators at an R&D stage, through to those close to launch. So long as the innovator can set out the issues they need assistance with, the Sandbox may be suitable”.

The new Sandbox, according to Ofgem offers bespoke guidance, comfort (shared risk) and time-limited derogations from specific rules for market trials. For companies at market entry, it can confirm that an activity is permissible, and, where a rule is blocking an innovation, potentially remove it by a derogation. The ‘single point of entry’ will also co-ordinate relevant code administrators where they need to make changes or provide input.

Alongside the Sandbox, Ofgem has opened a consultation on how and when it can relax rules for companies with specific new market products. The change could open the opportunity for suppliers to operate in specific geographical areas, or for specific types of premises, instead of having to provide a universal service. Alternatively it could allow for a derogation from other rules for a period of time.

Ofgem said “not all rules can be written with foresight of new technologies or business models … Where an innovator wants to trial something novel or launch a new business, some rules might act as barriers in enabling this to happen. One way we can better enable innovation is to be more flexible in providing relief from certain obligations”.

The regulator wants responses by 12 October.

Contact the Sandbox and Ofgem’s Innovation Link  here

Join the consultation here