With the non-domestic water market in England set to open for competition in 2017, businesses will be able to switch suppliers to find better deals and more support with water efficiency.
From April 2017, all businesses, charities and public sector organisations in England and Wales will be able to switch their water and wastewater retailer for the first time, creating the world’s largest competitive water market.
Currently, only organisations with at least one site that uses more than 5,000m3 of water a year are able to switch supplier, but the new changes will add 1.2 million extra customers to the market.
Businesses will be able shop around for a better price and service package or negotiate a better deal with their existing retailer, much like the electricity and gas market.
The move will aim to emulate success in Scotland, which has had an open water market since 2008.
Over half of non-domestic customers in Scotland have renegotiated with their water supplier or switched to a new one.
As well as lower prices and better value for money, the open water market is expected to encourage more tailored services from water retailers, such as better water usage data, industry benchmarking and more support to improve water efficiency.
The market in Scotland is already estimated to have delivered £40 million worth of improved water efficiency measures for customers, on top of the £52 million it has delivered in price discounts.
Organisations with more than one premises will also be able to reduce administrative costs by selecting a single supplier for all their sites.
The companies set to benefit most are therefore likely to be users with multiple sites or in high water usage sectors such manufacturing, healthcare, leisure, education, retail and commercial property.
Companies are being urged to conduct water audits of their site(s) ahead of the market launch so that they are more aware of their usage and can plan for negotiations with water retailers.
According to Rob Denny, commercial director at sustainability consultants, Minimise Water, the new market could “foster a new era of water efficiency, in the same way that energy deregulation has helped users recognise and implement energy reduction programmes.
“To benefit from switching you need reliable water management data with which to approach new water suppliers. Progressive businesses are already starting to investigate new options, in the same way that they’ve done previously with energy.
For more information on the new water market, click here.