Customers connected to district heating will soon benefit from a new consumer protection scheme.
The Heat Trust industry initiative was approved for launch at a meeting of key stakeholders this month, marking an important step forward for the maturing district heating sector.
The launch follows two years of industry, governmrnt and consumer group collaboration. The voluntary scheme sets out a number of provisions related to heat supplier obligations and service standards. These requirements are comparable to the quality and performance standards for regulated utilities and draw on legislation and industry best practice.
Dr Tim Rotheray, director of the Association for Decentralised Energy, said: "We are delighted that the scheme has cleared the final hurdle in bringing consumer protection to thousands of homes and businesses connected to district heating. As the role of district heating continues to grow in the UK, Heat Trust will be a vital tool to give peace of mind to heat customers. Consumers protected by the Scheme will be afforded a new level of confidence in the quality of service they can expect and a free and independent arbitration service to rely on should there be a problem. This scheme shows an industry that takes the initiative and works to ensure that it is able to deliver for consumers. We welcome the creation of Heat Trust and its ambitions to expand to cover more of this growing sector over time."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey confirmed government's ongoing support for the scheme: "Heat networks play a pivotal role in our transition to a low-carbon energy system, which is why we're backing this new scheme that will give people access to the right help and protection. We are on the side of the consumer and have been clear that we will introduce tougher regulations if needed to ensure people are getting a fair deal."
E.ON's Community Energy business is the first energy supplier to commit to Heat Trust. Jeremy Bungey, head of Community Energy at E.ON, said: "District heating schemes already bring secure, lower carbon and affordable energy to tens of thousands of customers across the country – and the numbers will continue to grow significantly in the coming years. At E.ON we are developing schemes from the West Country to Norfolk and from London to Yorkshire and this fantastic industry-led initiative will show that suppliers are committed to a high standard of service to heat customers. We've been on board from the start and I look forward to UK heat suppliers joining us to share in this commitment."
More information on the scheme can be found online at www.heattrust.org.