Midata in energy project

Data is a currency and we are empowering consumers to realise the value of their energy data. Midata in energy will enable residential consumers to quickly, securely and easily share their energy data with trusted third parties.

Consumer energy data such as tariff name and consumption information is currently stored by energy companies in different formats and in varying quality. Accessing this data is often cumbersome and time-consuming for consumers. Moreover, there is no standard format for suppliers to export and share data with a consumer, so it is often unusable by comparison sites and other third parties.

Currently consumers see little to no benefit in accessing their energy data. Midata in energy will change this.

What is midata?

The midata in energy project is led by Ofgem and BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), in collaboration with a range of government and business partners.

The midata framework will encompass:

  • An open data standard to establish a set of rules to ensure that data being shared is consistent across all suppliers. This will include a dictionary to define the language around data fields, integration mechanisms, security and customer experience.
  • An accreditation framework to ensure that data is only shared with trusted and appropriate third parties.
  • Supporting operational arrangements to monitor compliance with the standard. A governing body will also allow evolution of the standard as innovation and demands require.

The resulting framework allows consumers to choose which accredited third parties can request data from their supplier instantly and autonomously. This could be one-off or recurring data requests, and consumers can revoke ongoing consent permissions at any time.

What products and services will midata enable?

Initially midata will focus on improving the tariff comparison process to increase switching and drive competition. Consumers will be able to share the data their current energy supplier holds on them with accredited third parties, such as Price Comparison Websites (PCW) and competitor suppliers. This will make the process of comparing suppliers and tariffs quicker and easier for consumers, while third parties will be able to provide more informed comparisons and recommendations to consumers. Consumers may also choose to provide ongoing consent, so PCWs can regularly check that they are on the most suitable deal .

Additionally, midata will support innovation by enabling services that may not have been possible before. We plan for the midata standard to evolve and expand over time, to support third party requests and facilitate more use cases for consumer benefit.

Who does midata apply to?

A new Standard License Condition (SLC) will require all domestic gas and electricity energy suppliers to adhere to the midata framework. Ofgem will ensure monitoring is in place to ensure compliance with the SLC, and take appropriate measures for non-compliance if needed.

Third parties who are keen to utilise the midata framework will be able to apply for accreditation from mid-2019.

How will we deliver midata in energy?

We are delivering the midata project in accordance with the following principles:

  1. Open and transparent . The midata standard will be developed in a transparent manner. We will have a consultative and collaborative drafting process, which is in line with the Open Data Institute’s (ODI) Guidelines for developing open standards and the principles of open policy making. We will share our thinking early and often.
  2. Lean and iterative. Content within the standards documentation will be as lean as is practicable, particularly for the first iteration. This will mean a balance between detailed specifications and principles-led guidelines, to ensure that there is sufficient standardisation without being overly prescriptive or stifling.
  3. Empowered stakeholders. Stakeholders are critical to the success of the midata project. Our three working groups comprise a wide variety of representatives including energy suppliers, PCWs, and consumer groups. The working groups focus on consumer outcomes, industry delivery and standards development to collectively develop the midata framework.

The launch of the first iteration of the midata standard and the associated SLC change is planned for Autumn 2019.

Want to know more?

Find out more about the outputs of our working groups:

To sign up to our mailing list for regular updates or join a working group email consumerdata@ofgem.gov.uk.

Publications

Provisional orders and final orders

Enforcement action can include provisional and final orders being made, where appropriate, for breaches of licence conditions and relevant requirements under the Gas Act 1986 and the Electricity Act 1989.

Provisional orders are made with the intention of bringing an end to a breach of a licence condition or other relevant requirement and addressing an urgent need to remedy harm caused by that breach.

Typically (although not always), a final order would be made at the conclusion of an investigation, whereas a provisional order is usually made at an earlier stage when there is a greater urgency to address a breach.

Circumstances in which a provisional order may be made include where a regulated person is not taking steps to secure compliance, where behaviour needs to be stopped urgently, or where consumers (or other persons) are suffering continuing harm.

For example, provisional orders have been used previously in the following circumstances:

  • to prevent serious harm to customers of one energy company who were at risk of having their supplies cut off during cold weather
  • to require an energy company not to disconnect customers and to provide the option of prepayment meters for customers in payment difficulties
  • to require an energy company to lodge sufficient credit, pay any outstanding debts, and send us a business plan, updated monthly, on the measures it has taken to comply with industry code payment and credit requirements.

A provisional order will lapse if the Authority does not confirm it within three months of it being made. In contrast, once a final order is made, it does not need to be confirmed by the Authority to prevent it lapsing. The Authority does not have to undertake consultation prior to deciding whether to make a provisional order, but must consult before it decides whether to confirm a provisional order. The Authority must consult before it decides whether to make a final order.

The Authority need not make a final order, or make or confirm a provisional order, if the regulated person has agreed to take, and is taking, appropriate steps to comply with the relevant licence condition or requirement, or where the Authority considers that the breach is trivial.

If a regulated person fails to comply with a final order, confirmed provisional order or does not pay a financial penalty imposed on it by the Authority, we may decide to revoke its licence.

Further details in relation to our powers to make and confirm provisional and make final orders can be found in the Enforcement Guidelines.

Links to any current and past provisional orders can be accessed via the list below.

Retail compliance

Our retail compliance work aims to promote a culture where energy suppliers put consumers first and meet their obligations, helping to increase trust and engagement in the retail energy market. Achieving and maintaining high levels of fair treatment and good customer service is central to our role.

How we monitor compliance

We actively monitor supplier compliance with our rules. We have several sources of intelligence to help us do this effectively, including:

  • routinely collecting information from energy suppliers, such as information on the level and nature of complaints they receive. We strongly encourage supplier self-reporting;
  • working closely with Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Energy Ombudsman to identify systemic issues and emerging trends;
  • conducting targeted consumer research (including surveys) and monitoring wider consumer sentiment on social media; and
  • reviewing information from whistleblowers within the industry.

We assess the intelligence we receive and use it to inform our compliance engagement with suppliers.

How we promote compliance

Wherever possible we try to prevent harm to consumers before it happens. We do this in several ways, including by:

  • assigning a dedicated account manager to most suppliers, to provide a clear point of contact between suppliers and the Ofgem retail compliance team;
  • engaging with new suppliers to ensure they are aware of their regulatory obligations to customers, and working closely with existing suppliers to get to know their business, including site visits and regular telephone contact;
  • publishing resources to explain what we expect from suppliers, including guides to the supply licences;
  • publicising ongoing compliance work to confirm when Ofgem is aware of an issue and is working with a supplier to resolve it; and
  • publicising the outcomes of completed compliance work. This includes individual compliance Decision Notices and the twice-yearly Retail Compliance and Enforcement Report, which provides a round-up of our compliance activities over the preceding six months.

We publicise compliance activities (where appropriate) in the expectation that suppliers will not only consider the lessons, but will also review and, where necessary, improve their own policies and practices. Links to a selection of compliance publications from the last two years are set out below.

When non-compliance occurs

We expect suppliers to tell us about issues that arise and why they have happened. We also expect them to show, within a reasonable timeline, how they are putting things right and how they will ensure it doesn’t happen again. We are more likely to seek to resolve matters through compliance engagement when suppliers self-report.

Where potential breaches are serious or indicate repeated instances of non-compliance, or where a supplier is unwilling or unable to co-operate with us to put things right, we are more likely to open an enforcement investigation.

Preparing for EU exit

Today we published information outlining Ofgem’s preparations for the UK’s EU Exit. This covers areas such as licences, REMIT regulation and interconnector operations as well as preparations undertaken by Code Administrators, and also how we’re...