Should energy suppliers publish TPI commissions on customer bills?

The Utility Regulator aims to enhance transparency regarding brokers’ activity in Northern Ireland’s energy market

Energy suppliers in Northern Ireland (NI) could be required to publish third party intermediaries’ (TPIs) commissions on customer bills if they are known.

The Utility Regulator (UR) is consulting on its proposals and asking for further evidence from suppliers on energy brokers’ commissions and how they are structured and charged to non-domestic customers.

They are aimed at enhancing transparency regarding TPI activity in the NI energy market.

TPIs or energy brokers play an important role in helping customers negotiate energy contracts by operating as an interface or middle person between suppliers and their customers.

They could include consultants and price comparison websites.

The UR said TPI commissions are mainly charged on a pence per kWh bases but there can also be a fee for the overall contract, however, there could be other charging models it is unaware of or are yet to emerge in the NI energy market.

It adds comments from previous call for evidence respondents suggested customers are not always being made fully aware of what commission rates they are paying and in some situations, business customers have been misled over who is paying the broker.

The regulator said: “The UR currently has no statutory remit to regulate TPIs nor revenue raising powers to resource such work. And as TPI activity was found to be at a small scale in NI, we determined that an option that has a focus on monitoring and reporting would be best suited to the market at present.

“However, we also committed to follow the position paper with a consultation on the possibility of suppliers publishing TPI commission on customer’s bills, arguing that this could help introduce a level of transparency and protect businesses from excessive charging.”

It is seeking responses until 28th August 2018.

ELN recently held The Energy Live Consultancy Awards (TELCA) in London to celebrate the best TPIs and highlight best practice in the sector.

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