Ofgem has established an independent panel which will challenge the business plans developed by the energy network companies for the next price controls which will start from 2021.
The energy regulator sets price controls for the monopoly companies that operate Britain's energy networks. The next set of price controls is expected to result in lower network costs for consumers while allowing the companies to respond to challenges including accommodating electric vehicles and other new technology.
Ofgem wants consumers to have a stronger voice in the process for setting the next price controls. The panel will challenge each network company on how consumers' needs and views are being taken into account as it is developing its business plan. The panel will produce an independent report for Ofgem on its views of the companies' plans.
To further increase scrutiny of the business plans Ofgem will hold open hearings in the spring of 2020 where the companies will be questioned on areas of contention raised by the panel as well as other stakeholders, once the plans have been submitted.
Roger Witcomb, who led the Competition and Markets Authority's investigation into the GB energy market, will chair the panel. Panel members include consumer advocates as well as technical, regulatory and commercial experts.
Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem's executive director for systems and networks, said: "Consumers deserve robust and cost-effective business plans from energy network companies. The advice of the challenge panel will help us assess whether the plans deliver the services that customers expect from the networks in the next decade."
Witcomb said: "Energy networks play a vital, and increasingly important role in a smarter energy system. I am looking forward to working with the other panel members to make sure that the companies are putting consumers at the forefront of their plans for managing the major changes in how we generate and use energy."