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What is an open access heat network?

Posted by Ian Allan

Monday 15th April, 2019

BEIS Open letter to heat network operators

Posted by Kirsty Lambert

A brief guide to the Department for Business Energy Industrial Strategy (BEIS) open letter to heat network operators. 



Heat network key milestones: 

Since 2014, focus on heat network industry has gained momentum: 
  • Which? Turning up the heat 
  • Heat network (metering and billing) regulations 
  • CIBSE/ ADE Code of Practice CP1 launched
  •  Introduction to the Heat Trust

  • UK Government funds £320 million to support district heating schemes


  • BEIS market report


  • CMA Market study findings released


  • SAP 10 updates and Building L Regulations affecting heat networks
  • Proposed pending heat network regulation

 The latest announcement is the open letter from Claire Perry, Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth
The letter recognises the importance of heat networks
"Decarbonising our heating supply is one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation." 

Why are heat networks important? 

Environment: One central boiler plant is more efficient than individual boilers
Economic: Community heating can cut the costs to housing management and the resident 
Social: Addresses fuel poverty by reduced energy bills. Affordable warmth also reduces cold and condensation related illnesses.

Putting the customer first 
The letter highlights how more must be done to make sure customers are treated fairly. 
It identifies the Heat Trust as a driver for good industry practice. 
"One of the organisations working hard to establish good industry practice is the Heat Trust. The Heat Trust is an independent organisation seeking to drive up standards of performance of heat networks and improve the customer experience through a voluntary industry scheme." 
The letter encourages existing heat networks to adopt the Heat Trust standards. Providing a service comparable to gas and electricity companies: 

  • Support for vulnerable customers
  • Responding to faults and emergencies
  • Guaranteed service for payments for interruptions in supply 
  • Transparency in metering and billing
  • Complaints handling, including access to the Energy Ombudsman

Key takeaways
The letter outlines how using the Heat Trust scheme rules as a benchmark, the industry can take a unified approach to customer service standards
It will help the industry 'get in shape' before Regulation comes into play 
It will provide better control to the customer, with access to an ombudsman for dispute resolution 
Thus driving customer confidence in the market.
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Kirsty Lambert

Business Development Director at Switch2

A skilled director and leader with both operational and commercial experience, Kirsty has over 10 years’ experience in the community and district heating industry.

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