Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has welcomed the publication today of the Heat Networks Bill by the Scottish Government as a step in reducing carbon emissions and creating oversight of the previously-unregulated network of communal heating systems.
Heat networks, also known as district or communal heating, are a way of heating homes and buildings and are becoming more and more commonplace in Scotland.
There are potential environmental benefits from using heat networks, which are generally more efficient than individual boilers and can be run from renewable sources.
But CAS has long called for the regulation of heat networks, calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to strengthen consumer protection through a licence covering measures around billing, metering, standards of service and access to redress.
Welcoming the bill, CAS Chief Executive Derek Mitchell said: “The Heat Networks Bill is an important step forward in the bid to tackle the climate crisis and establish oversight of what currently is an unregulated sector.
“Although there are benefits of having your home on a heat network, without a regulatory framework we do see examples of Scottish consumers not getting a fair deal.
“Currently, if your home is on a heat network you cannot switch energy supplier, you might pay your heating bills to an unregulated management company or housing association and you might have to pay for maintenance costs.
“This leaves people without many options and without clear routes for redress when something goes wrong.
“So although this Bill is welcome, CAS will also be calling on the UK Government to strengthen consumer protection, which is currently a reserved matter, as part of its current consultation on heat networks and we will continue to work closely with both governments as this legislation progresses for the benefit of all consumers.”
More information on the Heat Networks Bill, published today (Monday 3 March) is available here.