Meet the people; they just want an easy life
16th May 2022
After a period of reconnecting with voters, it is appropriate to reflect on lessons learned for our industry. The overwhelming message is that the average voter just wants to get on with their life – they do not want to be involved in the minutiae of energy policy, even when it directly affects them. They want life made easier for them, not more complicated than it is already. When politicians forget that, they are voted out of office, if we ever forget this, we will become irrelevant to them.
So when you hear about the latest gadget or technical advance that can revolutionise home heating, or some academic telling consumers what they need to do, it simply is noise. It has no bearing or relevance to the everyday experience of the average voter. Now I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it is reality. And our industry is firmly based in the real world.
We have seen the results of assuming all consumers are activists in energy policy. Some were, they switched suppliers regularly to minimise costs, and encouraged firms to set up and cut corners by offering ever-lower prices. When the bubble burst, every consumer was left picking up the tab for failure. And throughout this time, the majority of consumers simply didn’t bother switching. Again, I’m not saying this is a good thing just reality. The cruellest outcome is for them. They didn’t gain from gaming the system but still end up paying the price of supplier failures. And I suspect both you and I know who these consumers are likely to be.
Some, but not all, would be described as “vulnerable” but that doesn’t do justice to them. They have busy, perhaps even chaotic lives. They want simple solutions to what life throws at them. They have flicked the switch and decarbonised electricity has powered their homes. They didn’t have to get actively involved in choosing how to decarbonise power. They will want the same for heating. When it’s cold, they want the boiler to kick in and warm their home, not a huge ask is it? So giving them an easy life needs to be our way of helping them.
Mike Foster, CEO