Pure Planet Community Q&A with Katie - Our Regulatory Lead

  • 26 August 2021
  • 13 replies
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Pure Planet Community Q&A with Katie - Our Regulatory Lead
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Hi I’m Katie, Regulatory Lead at Pure Planet. I’m responsible for keeping Pure Planet on top of the rules and regulations (that are mostly set by our regulator, Ofgem, in our Supply Licence). It’s also my job to keep a finger on the pulse of regulatory change, that is, policy discussions with Ofgem, the Government and sometimes other third party authorities (such as Citizens Advice). By day this involves reading *a lot* of policy documents, engaging with decision makers and joining industry meetings. My favourite part of the role is chatting to other teams across Pure Planet and getting their expert perspectives on regulatory change, such as how we can make outcomes better for Members and the sector at large. 

As we’re increasingly facing up to the challenge of reaching net zero by 2050, there will of course be a lot of regulatory change to future-proof the energy system, and really importantly, make sure nobody gets left behind. 

When I’m not working, I can usually be found wandering around Bristol saying ‘this is nice’ :heart_eyes:(I moved here from London 2.5 years ago and have never looked back), cooking for friends, or getting out in nature. I recently took up paddleboarding and I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of romantic comedies. 

It’s lovely to meet everyone :blush:; please ask me any questions you have about the world of regulations (or otherwise) - that can be anything from Smart meters, to protecting vulnerable customers, to what we need to do to future-proof the energy system. There might be some areas where I might not be able to provide a full answer, or where I’m speaking from my personal perspective and not Pure Planet’s, but I’ll of course do my best to answer all of your questions.


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13 replies

Welcome to the Community @katie_pureplanet and thank you for offering to do this Q+A with us here in the Community. :grinning:

As usual folks, if you have any questions, please add them here in the replies! We’ll keep this thread open for questions for a week or two.

Then, we’ll close this thread and start a new one with all the replies to your questions. 

So, over to you! Post your questions in the replies to this thread and Katie can answer them in the next fortnight or so. 

BTW it’s okay to ask more than one question! (in fact, we’d love you to ask as many as you like). 

Looking forward to hearing everyone’s questions. :raised_hands:

Is the price cap working as it should? I mean, does it protect customers from really expensive price rises?

Hi @katie_pureplanet 

You don’t necessarily have to answer this, because I know they can sometimes be ‘sensitive’ things?

Have you ever found that the lovely ‘legally-minded’ people in their ‘ivory towers’ have created any regulations that have the exact opposite effect to what they intended?


I keep thinking REGOs would fall into this category, but I think that’s more to do with people ‘not understanding’ than than creating the opposite effect to the actual intention.

 

Thanks

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hi @katie_pureplanet 

(hmmm...that’s an unusual surname, is it coincidence?)

Trying to sort Ofgem information into an understandable format (for those who aren’t lawyers) is proving more and more difficult and frustrating and especially recently since Ofgem reorganised their website? it’s even harder.

I’d like to see the energy companies put pressure on Ofgem (like that’s going to happen, it would be like sending your boss a complaint about their behaviour!)

They don’t seem to be accountable to the man on the renewable energy powered electric Clapham Omnibus about how they present sometimes complex policies to the public, and how to help them understand the implications of those policies and rules. I’m afraid that does filter down through the energy co’s who probably find they have far more work to do than they should have in translating Ofgem’s work. (and it leads to misunderstandings).

The price cap is a prime example, (but there are lots of others) of something an average customer would have no chance of easily understanding it if they trawled through Ofgem’s website.

I think it’s becoming more and more important for Ofgem to be democratically accountable for their largely inaccessible  and obscure (for various reasons) regulatory structure and regulations and the unintended consequences of such.

So what I’m asking is will you bite the hand that feeds you on behalf of your customers?

 

hi @katie_pureplanet 

(hmmm...that’s an unusual surname, is it coincidence?)

Maybe it’s in the supply licence @woz ‘All employees must adopt the company name for their surname’ ? Evidence of OFGEM overreach?

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@katie_pureplanet 

it looks like Symbio energy will most likely be the next failure

Great system, when a company can’t pay the bills  first port of call is threaten to slap a huge fine on them. (because that will really work won’t it)

At least it guarantees the government will get it’s mitts on consumers money while  then sharing the debt out among all.

What a corrupt system and I don’t expect you to comment because it wouldn’t be appropriate.

This is happening time and time again, and it can only get worse. It’s the consumers caught in the middle I feel sorry for.

The system should be modified so that there is no possibility of racking up huge debts,  which co far have inevitably led to the cessation of trading of the companies involved. It just shows that the regulator is failing in it’s duty to the public.

Suggesting an answer to that biggy would be a brave step. Go for it @katie_pureplanet, I dare you! 😉

hi @katie_pureplanet 

I think it’s becoming more and more important for Ofgem to be democratically accountable for their largely inaccessible  and obscure (for various reasons) regulatory structure and regulations and the unintended consequences of such.

So what I’m asking is will you bite the hand that feeds you on behalf of your customers?

 

Don’t forget those working in Ofgem probably have little or no experience of communicating with humans. Like Wattbot. They may succeed with Wattbot. I have found more than 50%, perhaps 75% or more, in many businesses,  including the public sector,  are incapable of communicating in an understandable manner. However, I give high marks to most of the Government web sites as over the last 5 years they have massively improved to be straight forward and helpful and no longer confusing. 

Does Ofgem have any muscle anyway?

Hi @katie_pureplanet 

Have you ever found that the lovely ‘legally-minded’ people in their ‘ivory towers’ have created any regulations that have the exact opposite effect to what they intended?

I came across this once on a licensing issue. I raised it with the relevant government department. They just would not have it that they could be wrong and had messed up. Just not possible. Fortunately I was to meet with someone much more senior a little later with other experts in the field. I explained the error and the reaction I got from the minions. It was rectified. I have done the same with a piece of law but it was never changed , the boffins in the government department could not possibly have got it wrong. They did and it meant a properly constituted body was not properly constituted but fortunately other changes have resulted in it now not being a problem. This attitude I have seen so often in the public sector of not wanting to admit to mistakes, and we all make them, is appalling. But it is common.

Hi @katie_pureplanet 

This attitude I have seen so often in the public sector of not wanting to admit to mistakes, and we all make them, is appalling. But it is common.

Yes, there’s some in-built belief at some levels of the unCivil Service, that you should never make mistakes.
There’s also sadly a belief amongst some that once you reach the level where you should never admit to mistakes, that you don’t need to consult or seek advice from those below you before instigating change.

I’ve experienced it first hand when I was in the NHS,  I’ve also got friends in other departments who say it’s still not changed. It seems to come from the top, where there’s an obsession in the interview process with proving how ‘successful’ you been rather than what you’ve learned from your mistakes.

Only once can I recall someone ‘high-up’ owning up, and even then only indirectly - we were at a meeting in London regarding changes to Pharmacy regulations, and I asked why one existing regulation caused so much trouble - the person chairing the meeting said something like:

‘Well what we intended to do was write the rules to avoid people competing too much over “territory” - what actually happened was we made the “territory” have a value out of all proportion to the contract involved, and made some people’s houses, or pharmacies, worth a lot of money.’

 

@katie_pureplanet Why do I keep getting a notice at the bottom of the page inviting me to accept cookies when there is nothing to accept? A cookie icon would be enough for those who want to look and it takes you to a page that reads something like “The only cookies we use are those permitted by law and necessary for the working of the site. If you want more details click here….”

Hi everyone, 

Thank for your questions so far! 
We’ll be closing this to new questions at the end of this week - so please do add any other Qs you can think of to this thread. The more questions the merrier. :grin:

Hey everyone, 

Just to let you know I’m closing this thread now, thank you so much for asking your questions. :slight_smile:

@katie_pureplanet and I will be posting all the answers in a new post here on the Community soon, so keep your eyes peeled!