Retail competition in the water business? Veolia and Scottish Water Business Stream will partner in April to give water customers in England a chance to choose where they want to buy their H2O.
That’s according to Water and Waste Water International, which says that this will enable 1.2 million businesses and public bodies in England to go shopping for new suppliers, much like consumers can for their gas and electricity providers.
Business Stream, though, is not new to the water retail market, having been in the Scottish water realm since 2005. English regulators will be ironing out the specifics of how things will work there, including the potential costs and benefits, says the news site.
“We know that businesses in England are taking a fresh look at how they buy and manage their water and wastewater services as a result of the choices they will have available from April,” saidJo Dow, chief executive of Business Stream, in a statement.
“Opening up the water retail market to competition offers industrial and commercial customers an opportunity to benefit from the innovation and resource efficiency Veolia and Business Stream create,” added John Abraham, Veolia’s chief operating officer – UK municipal water & Ireland, in a statement.
“We can offer an integrated sustainable proposition which guarantees security of water and energy supply and unlocks the value within process waste and waste water which will produce economies of scale and cost efficiencies whilst putting the circular economy into practice,” he added.
The new partnership will be able to deliver a wide range of services including guaranteed supply, water recovery, waste water treatment, compliance, and water management plans, the release said.
According to Water and Waste Water International, a deregulated water market in England could be worth £2.9bn over 30 years, which amounts to £8 per customer, per year. It cites a report by the water regulator there, known as Ofwat.
The benefits, at least initially, will be small. But through innovation and competition, the level of products and services could be much greater.
“We are living in an age of retail revolution, but water customers are being left behind. The service offers from water companies can feel behind the curve compared to the innovation customers benefit from when buying other goods. The uncomfortable truth is that, when it comes to retail offers, water companies provide an analogue service in a digital age,” said Cathryn Ross, chief executive of Ofwat, as quoted on the news site.