A quick but complex solution in response to the energy crisis

The price cap for lower energy bills for consumers

The price cap for lower energy bills for consumers
  • Case Study

The energy price cap came into effect at the beginning of this year against a background of enormous time pressure and significant social unrest. As gas prices skyrocketed, energy suppliers had to implement the measure in a short time. Sean Saturday, technology and control expert at PwC, and lawyer Peter van Asperen advised a major energy supplier on the implementation and reliable execution of the price cap.

Energy suppliers had to implement the price cap and set up their internal systems accordingly within a very short period of time. ‘Translating a legal framework into systems and processes is a complex process which is why this energy supplier approached us for expert advice,’ explains Saturday.

'A crucial aspect for 2023 is to ensure that all customers who are entitled to the price cap also receive this discount throughout the year. Once the year is over suppliers will then have to prove this to the subsidy provider with an accountant's statement in order to make the final determination.’

Community of solvers

It is only logical that Van Asperen and Saturday worked together on this assignment from their own disciplines. ‘The price cap was partly made possible by the EU,’ continues Van Asperen. ‘I called Sean when the European emergency package was launched in the autumn of last year. He was already working for this energy supplier at the time and I felt sure that we could do something valuable together.’

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Peter van Asperen about the community of solvers

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Sean Saturday about the community of solvers

Pooling expertise

For Saturday, his colleague's knowledge felt like the missing piece of the puzzle he needed to provide complete support to the energy supplier. ‘Peter is well versed in the legal aspects and has experience in consumer markets. I'm in technology, financial processes and management.’

Van Asperen agrees that these completely different areas of expertise benefit the collaboration. ‘The greater the difference between each other's knowledge, the more you try to understand each other's worlds. Lawyers have a different way of thinking than technology experts. For example, I don't understand ‘queries’ {a computer science term describing a command to a database, ed.}. And as a lawyer, I notice that we like to close everything with complicated constructions. Sean can take a fresh look at this and has data experts in his team. Working together with other specialists keeps you sharp and makes you appreciate each other's expertise enormously.’

Legal framework in three steps

In order to examine the design of the process at the energy supplier, Saturday and Van Asperen set up the assignment in three steps. ‘We began with a legal analysis which included the translation to the operation,’ says Van Asperen. ‘This was followed by the translation into an implementation and control framework for the organisation. The third and final step was the translation into data as you have to be able to monitor and account for the financial flows'.’

Saturday's team studied the process and the technical design, building up the knowledge needed on the complex billing processes found at an energy supplier. ‘As well as having to deal with all the terms that come with the price cap, there are also conditions attached to the regular transactions too, Gas, electricity, network management costs… All these factors have to end up in the right places according to the rules.’

Next steps

This work for the energy supplier has now given the colleagues a clear picture of how the price cap can be followed up, both in their work and beyond. Van Asperen: ‘We can use the experiences gained as part of the social debate. A lasting theme within this debate is the need to think more consciously about people with a low budget. This group has been enormously impacted by the energy price rises and the question is how they can be helped in any subsequent crisis. We should also take into account the vulnerability of companies in relation to energy, especially when governments are not always willing to step in.’

Future proofing

Saturday sees the price cap as a social task which comes with a simultaneous challenge to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible according to the rules. ‘In this context I would mention the stricter supervision of energy suppliers. It is important to prevent companies from making huge excess profits and to prevent others from going bust.

‘To give a clear signal to society, regulation is required that keeps a grip on where the money is earned and how it is invested in the energy transition. One of the good things about this particular assignment is that it is also included as a business strategy. The energy supplier wants to do this from the free market. These social objectives are very interesting to us. And above all, how we can achieve this as best as possible within the rules that we have devised together.’

Contact us

Peter van Asperen

Peter van Asperen

Senior Manager, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)6 38 18 47 73

Sean Saturday

Sean Saturday

Director, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 244 62 15

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