We have just published a paper, written jointly with our solicitors, Shepherd and Wedderburn, about the lessons we learned in implementing the retail competition framework in Scotland.
Perhaps the most important of these is that it takes time to implement and then to bed in the new framework. We worked over more than four years on the design of the market, the operations, market, disconnections and governance codes and the template wholesale services agreement.
During this time we worked closely with Scottish Water and other interested parties through a Licensing Framework Implementation Group. This group comprised representatives from a multi-utility, three English water and sewerage companies and smaller potential entrants. It allowed us to understand and debate the concerns of both the incumbent supplier and potential new entrants. We see this group as having been instrumental in allowing us to have opened the market successfully on the agreed schedule.
In almost all respects the opening of the market worked just as we had planned. To be honest, the overwhelming emotion was one of relief rather than triumph or even satisfaction. It involved an awful lot of hard work. I should like to pay tribute to the team in the Commission and to Gordon Downie and his team at Shepherd and Wedderburn for their efforts in ensuring that everything worked as well as it did.
The market framework was tested almost immediately. The failure of Aquavitae required us to trigger the provider of last resort processes much quicker than we might have liked. However, I am pleased to say that no customer suffered any loss or disruption to their supply. With the easy benefit of hindsight, it was perhaps good to have undergone this challenge so early on.
In Scotland we continue to work on improving how trade effluent, new connections and metering services are provided in the new market. Indeed Aimera, one of the new entrants to the market, handled the water and sewerage connection for our new office most efficiently! The results of our work with stakeholders in these areas will be announced in the next few weeks.
But the lesson is clear. It takes time to implement this framework and time to get it fully bedded in. This inevitably limits the scope of the changes that the industry can successfully implement in any given period.