Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Retail energy markets in the UK - next steps for sector modernisation, decarbonisation, regulation, and delivering value and new services for customers

Morning, Thursday, 11th March 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the future of energy retail markets.

It will be a timely opportunity to assess:

  • wide-ranging plans for reform to the market framework
  • priorities for modernisation and decarbonisation
  • sector development, new services and value for consumers

The agenda:

  • Retail energy markets in the UK and policy priorities for increasing competition, quality consumer services, and market-wide innovation
  • Energy White Paper implementation and affordability, resilience, and sustainability in the retail energy market
    • Supplier responsibilities and delivering modern and reliable services - flexible tariffs, smart household options, and meeting changing needs of consumers
    • A market that works for both consumers and retailers - business models, commercial sustainability, and operational stability into the future
    • Priorities for consumer services - widening competition, affordable bills, and support for switching
    • Policy and industry priorities for implementing energy efficiency measures in the UK, and the future of government and supplier-led schemes
    • Next steps for renewable power integration into retail energy markets, and accelerating supply-side decarbonisation
  • Ensuring electricity networks are fit for a changing market and net-zero ambitions - decarbonisation, whole-system change, and flexibility
  • Priorities and practicalities for reforming energy code systems and governance
  • Optimising the energy system for innovative and disruptive technology - smart energy platforms, connecting clean and distributed assets, and readying the grid for household non-generation technologies
  • Modernising regulation for UK energy markets that support emissions targets and consumer priorities

Key areas for discussion:

  • meeting a range of key policy goals - the optimal policy approach to supporting business confidence, service innovation, network modernisation, consumer protection, and decarbonisation 
  • priorities for code and regulatory reform:
    • delivering modernisation - enabling the grid to integrate low-carbon sources of supply and to more effectively balance supply and demand
    • consumer benefits - translating flexibility and operational gains to lower customer bills
    • regulatory reform:
      • joint working - fostering increased cooperation between policymakers and industry
      • industry codes - giving administrators powers to resolve supplier issues more quickly
      • bureaucracy - reducing the administrative costs passed to energy users
  • improving consumer services:
    • responding to user behavioural change - developments in tariff design and smart cost-reduction solutions
    • COVID-19 - latest thinking on policy support, establishing stable and resilient business models, and mitigating risks to services for consumers
    • retail market reform - including options for:
      • reducing entry barriers and increasing competitiveness
      • utilising more low-carbon sources of supply and increasing reliability, cost effectiveness, and decarbonisation
    • household bills - addressing barriers to their reduction, looking at the future of both supplier responsibilities and driving forward energy efficiency improvements 
  • energy system optimisation:
    • smart energy modernisation - facilitating introduction of innovative technology, and where development should be focused to maximise benefit for the market, retailers and consumers
    • a smart market platform - further digitising retail, connecting generation assets to the digital grid, and pairing together generators, suppliers, and consumers for trading
    • household and demand-side energy management - including options for:
      • smart meter rollout - including increasing supplier commitments
      • demand-side response - enabling network operators to scale up capabilities
    • distributed energy resources:
      • grid connections - supporting energy storage and generation and non-generation integration, and reducing regulatory burdens
      • small-scale generators - latest thinking on design of attractive export tariffs
      • integration - priorities for implementing systems capable of managing distributed and diverse energy flows

Relevant developments:

  • government policy and overall objectives:
    • working towards a holistic framework for developing the UK energy system up to 2050, with retail energy markets a core part of the transition process
    • commercialising smart energy technology, and the rollout of benefits in increasing household energy management, cost reduction, and decarbonisation
  • the Energy White Paper:
    • the long-awaited comprehensive plan for scaling the UK energy system to net-zero emissions, commercialising energy technologies, and creating an affordable and competitive retail market
    • with priorities including support for smart and flexible tariffs, direct and supplier-led energy efficiency improvements, and commitments to hold numerous consultations in 2021, such as:
      • calls for evidence on increasing retail affordability and fairness
      • potential design for automatic tariff switching arrangements for consumers
      • reform to tariff auto-renewal frameworks to help foster competition
      • the gathering of views on how third party players like energy brokers can be regulated more effectively
  • further policy initiatives - impacting consumers and energy users directly and aiming to increase energy efficiency rollout and improvements, including:
    • the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution - and its specific objectives for efficiency gains across homes, schools and hospitals
    • the £2bn Green Homes Grant and supplier-led Energy Company Obligation (ECO3) scheme, both delivering energy efficiency improvements in England to vulnerable households
  • the Domestic Gas and Electricity Tariff Cap - continuing into 2021, aimed at savings for typical households on default energy tariffs, as well as encouraging more customers to switch for better deals
  • RIIO-2 Draft Determinations for Transmission, Gas Distribution and Electricity System Operator - final details for the next price control period by Ofgem, to 2026, including:
    • provisions on energy system and network modernisation and green energy projects
    • tougher targets for customer services and quality, with savings from lower network return rates being used to lower consumer bills
  • the Energy network codes review - being conducted by the Government and Ofgem as well the regulator’s Retail Code Consolidation Significant Code Review - both looking to:
    • reform code frameworks, increase simplification for suppliers and market stakeholders, and reduce the number of codes
    • support innovation and enable more flexible decision-making among code administrators
  • Government sets out plans to drive up smart meter installations - for the next four years, starting in 2021, aimed at increasing the ability of UK households to use energy more intelligently

Policy officials attending

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stake holders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Lords, and officials from the Department for International Trade and The Scottish Government. Also due to attend are representatives from the University of Cambridge. A press pass has been reserved by a representative from Faversham house.

Overall, we expect further speakers and other delegates to be an informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials involved in this area of public policy, together with other stakeholders from across the energy sector including energy companies and their advisors, consumer bodies, environmental groups, community enterprises, investment firms, technology platforms, law firms, researchers from academia and higher education, as well as reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Neil Barnes

Deputy Director, Consumers & Markets, Ofgem


Alex Belsham-Harris

Principal Policy Manager, Energy Retail Markets Policy, Citizens Advice

Ian Cameron

Head of Customer Service and Innovation, UK Power Networks

Joanna Hubbard

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Electron

Sarah Keay-Bright

Practice Manager, Policy & Regulation, Energy Systems Catapult