The inquiry will investigate how effectively the market works, across the whole of the UK, for buyers of heating oil and liquid gas (LPG) and also for off-grid people with neither. It will essentially determine if there are (or have been) anti-competitive practices going on, and this extends to terms and conditions - not just prices. It is also interested in delayed deliveries, difficulties in switching and a lack of transparency in the market. The study will look at the market picture on a local, regional and national basis; this encompasses 2.5 million households, of which around 1.5 million use heating oil.
One interesting aspect is how renewable sources can play their part in reducing an off-grid consumer's dependence on oil-based products. Solar water heaters, ground / air source heat pumps and wood chip burners are all candidates for micro-generation alternatives.
Most important of all, this is not going to be a cosy chat with the FPS. The OFT will be seeking "the experience of customers: the OFT proposes to survey the views of off-grid energy users around the UK". This is your chance to have a voice in the oil supply market!
To make sure you don't miss out on this opportunity, drop your email address into the pop-out box on the right and I will let you know when the OFT starts the survey process. (If you can't see the pop-out box, please contact me and let me know your email address from there.) You can also keep up to date on Facebook, at the new heating oil page.
You can see an overview of the study here: Off grid energy study.
OFT Press release on 25 January 2011: OFT to examine energy supply to off-grid customers