Water Plus recently attended the Public Sector Show held in the London ExCel Arena. The Public Sector Show allowed delegates to network with their peers whilst offering more than 30 hours of content led presentations, all designed to keep attendees up to date with policy announcements, share industry best practices and encourage networking between fellow professionals.
We led one of the content focused panel discussions, titled “An Open Water Market – Changes for the Public Sector” George Penfold, Director of Spraga and a well-known and well-trusted, voice in utilities management sector chaired the panel. As a regular blogger, commentator and well-recognised personality in the utilities sector, George was the perfect candidate to chair our panel, her knowledge of the water market was surpassed only by her passion for creating, curating and communicating ideas about resource efficiency.
This passion for best practice shone through as she directed questions towards our three Water Experts, Lisa Tedd, Head of Public Sector Account Management, Jodi Robinson our Advanced Services Manager and Kirsty Christie, our Water Plus Propositions Expert.
A number of areas were covered, starting with an overview of the competitive water market and how it is working now we are functioning in a live water market. Jodi, who previously worked for water wholesaler United Utilities, briefly explained the roles and responsibilities of a water wholesale company as well as how the Retailers now ‘fit’ into the equation. Put simply the wholesaler is still responsible for supplying your business with fresh water and taking away wastewater. Jodi explained that it isn’t possible to choose your wholesaler as this is purely dependent on where your site is located but that in the open water market, you are able to choose your water retailer. Your retailer buys water and wastewater services from the wholesalers and then provides you with your billing, payments, meter reading and customer services associated with managing your business water account.
Kirsty talked about her experience when the Scottish market opened for competition in 2008. She was able to give an interesting perspective on the market and audience members asked what differences she has seen between the English market now and the Scottish market when it opened. The answer was twofold, with Kirsty firstly explaining that in Scotland there is only one water wholesaler whereas in the England there are over 20, which brings a different set of challenges. Both markets have roughly 20 water Retailers, with new ‘entrants’ appearing in England as they had previously done in Scotland. This is all to be expected and brings choice for customers which is exactly what the opening of the water market was designed to do.
Our panel further discussed the differences between the services that retailers will offer with the key ‘take home point’ being do your research. Both Kirsty and Lisa stressed that customers need to fully determine what is important to them, document this ‘wish list’ and then do their research to ensure they’re aligning themselves to a retailer that can actually fulfil these requirements.
It wouldn’t be a public sector event if savings weren’t mentioned, and this was a prime area of discussion with questions surrounding margins and water efficiency being brought up. Consensus was water margins and discounts are small. At most customers can expect to save less than 2% on their water costs. Having said this, customers can save considerably more by being more water efficient. Jodi gave a good example of a leak of 1 cubic metre of water an hour (which isn’t a particularly big leak) if left unaddressed could cost £67 a day, £472 s week and £24,615 a year which really highlights where public sector organisations could save.
If you didn’t get chance to attend the panel discussion and still have questions about how your organisation could benefit in a deregulated water market don’t worry, you can email the team firstname.lastname@example.org and they’d be happy to talk to you or we’ve developed this handy water market guide.
We had a fantastic time at the Public Sector Show and would like to thank the Public Sector Show team for organising a conference where we were able to not only showcase our water service offering but also discuss how organisations and end users can benefit from an open, deregulated water market.
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