Businesses bag big savings through water retail competition

Metal manufacturer Magnesium Elektron is among a number of organisations from across the public and private sectors that have realised thousands of pounds' worth of efficiency savings by capitalising on the UK's newly opened water retail market.

Water wastage at a Magnesium Elektron manufacturing site has reportedly fallen by 2.4m3/h thanks to support from business water retailer Water Plus, a joint venture between United Utilities and Severn Trent Water.

According to Water Plus, a fixed leak that was identified after Magnesium Elektron switched water supplier has helped the industrial manufacturer save around £35,000 a year on its water bills.

Water Plus also claims to have saved another industrial manufacturer £36,000 a year and a secondary school £63,000 a year after discovering and stopping leaks at the respective sites following the opening of water retail competition in England in April

Water Plus chief executive Sue Amies-King said: “We have saved organisations thousands of pounds through our work on water efficiency and that figure continues to grow as more businesses get to hear about what we can do for them.

“In our experience, savings can be made across all businesses and organisations – from the corner shop, to a school or a large manufacturing business with complex water or wastewater processes. There are a number of ways to save on costs, reduce consumption and reduce administration.”

Water retail market

The water efficiency work has been possible due to the water market opening for businesses, charities and public sector organisations. It means, for the first time, organisations can choose a business water retailer for services including their billing, customer service, account management and water efficiency advice.

More than 36,000 businesses have reportedly switched water retailer since the market opened to competition, with around 60% of those switches coming from low-water-users. At the end of the first quarter, there were 25 wholesalers and 35 retailers in the market. Of these 22 were national, 12 were regional and one – brewer Greene King – was a self-supply retailer. Meanwhile, brewery and pub retailer Marston’s has applied to Ofwat for a water self-supply licence, which would allow it to provide its own water retail services.

Earlier this summer, Utilitywise chief executive Brendan Flattery wrote to Environment Secretary Michael Gove urging him to “put the customer first and make the water market truly open and honest”, after research found that just one in four small businesses feel informed about the impact of water market deregulation on their business. Flattery insisted that the low switching numbers seen so far suggest that market liberalisation has “gone off the boil”.

Before the water market opened, edie published a guide to explain the changes, and the benefits and implications that the market is expected bring. The edie explains: Water retail competition guide, produced in partnership with edie’s sister title Utility Week, provides an in-depth summary of the government-led strategy which will allow all non-domestic water users to switch suppliers of water retail services.


To coincide with the market opening, edie’s publisher Faversham House also launched a brand new publication – Water.Retail – under the auspices of Utility Week. This fortnightly, high-value, newsletter-style publication connects brokers to wholesalers, retailers and customers, and provides water retail professionals with high-value business intelligence and market insights. Sign up to Water.Retail now and get a free trial subscription.

George Ogleby

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