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UK government announces regulation and expansion of heat networks

Ombudsman Services welcome the announcement from government to appoint Ofgem as regulator of the heat networks sector with the intention to appoint the Energy Ombudsman as the independent ombudsman scheme for consumers.

Ombudsman Services | Dec 29, 2021

Heat networks form an important part of the government’s strategy to increase the affordability of heating and reduce carbon emissions. They work by employing a system of pipes to distribute renewable and recovered heat from a central source to a number of domestic or commercial buildings. For the UK to meet its carbon targets cost effectively, we will need around 18% of our heat to come from heat networks by 2050 according to the Climate Change Committee. In order to realise this objective, the heat networks industry needs to build trust through having established technical standards and consumer protections in place.

The government has been supporting industry-led initiatives in this area including the ‘CIBSE Code of Practice’ and ‘Heat Trust’ (for whom we act as ombudsman) and have now announced the appointment of Ofgem as regulator of the sector.

Citizens Advice will be appointed as the consumer advocacy body with the intention to appoint the Energy Ombudsman as the independent ombudsman scheme for consumers.

Providing an appropriate regulatory framework is an important development in ensuring that consumers on heat networks are afforded similar protections to those using gas and electricity. Regulation will ensure that heat network consumers receive a fair price and reliable supply of heat, whilst also facilitating the growth and decarbonisation of the market. The government will work closely with Ofgem, Citizens Advice and the Energy Ombudsman to implement a market framework which achieves these aims.

“The heat network sector is crucial in helping to decarbonise heat for a more sustainable future. As the Energy Ombudsman, we welcome government’s intention to appoint us as the independent ombudsman service. The Energy Ombudsman stands ready to provide consumers with access to a free and independent ombudsman service that supports the regulatory framework and consumer protections we’ve been developing with these key stakeholders.” Ed Dodman, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Ombudsman Services which runs the Energy Ombudsman.