United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Staggered UK start

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The timetable for liberalisation of the British electricity market could be delayed by six months to allow for a phased introduction to full competition in supply. According to Stephen Littlechild, the Electricity Regulator, his proposals for 1998 would ensure that customers and suppliers are protected from unnecessary disruptions as the market opens up.

Competition already exists for some 55,000 large electricity consumers with a maximum demand above 100 kW. In 1998, all 23 million domestic, industrial and commercial customers will have a choice of electricity supplier. Littlechild proposes that from April 1, 1998 -- the original date for full liberalisation -- only 10% of the market below 100 kW will be opened up. This will involve some two million customers, who will be determined by specified post codes in each public electricity supply area. Also included in this first phase will be customers in the non-domestic market who already have half-hour metering, and customers such as retailers with multiple sites across the country.

The second phase, towards the end of May 1998, will cover a further 15% -- some 3.5 million customers. The third phase covering 25% -- six million customers will be towards the end of July, and the final phase in mid September will cover the final 50%.

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