District Heating Network Consumers

Energy Security and Net Zero – in the House of Commons at on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

What assessment she has made of the adequacy of financial support for district heating network consumers.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

The evaluation of our energy support schemes will conclude in summer 2025. To ensure their bills were fair, supported heat network customers received an average of £1,200 via the energy discount scheme, which closed last month.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

That is rather disappointing. I have more than 100 constituents in the Greendykes area of Edinburgh who get their heating and hot water from a communal district heating scheme. The Government have refused to offer them price protection, saying instead that this should be regulated by the business regulation scheme, but that ended on 31 March, leaving those people with no protection at all and facing increases of up to 500% in their energy bills. My constituents want to know: why did the Government wait until the business scheme finished before considering alternative protection for these domestic customers? Why take a year to get them protected and what compensation are the Government going to offer in the meantime?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I hear the passion with which the hon. Gentleman stands up for his constituents, and rightly so, given the circumstances that they find themselves in. We are introducing regulations with Ofgem powers to investigate and intervene where prices for consumers appear to be unfair, and to ensure that all heat network consumers receive a high-quality service from their providers. I am happy to meet him to discuss this in greater detail.

Photo of Richard Fuller Richard Fuller Conservative, North East Bedfordshire

District heating networks are a good innovation and the Government have a good record of stimulating these projects around the country, but Tommy Sheppard is right to say that the regulation in this area needs looking at. Can I reassert what he has just said and ask the Minister to carefully come forward with protections to ensure that consumers on shared heating networks are not at a disadvantage compared with people who pay their bills directly?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I am pleased to give that assurance to my hon. Friend. As I have said, we are talking to Ofgem right now about introducing regulations to make this much fairer and simpler and to ensure that consumers on heat networks get the service that they deserve.