08 May 2008 | Paul Snell
The Scottish water regulator is confident about the future success of competition in the country.
Alan Sutherland, chief executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS), told SM it can avoid the problems its counterparts in England and Wales experienced when opening up the utility to competition.
Water and sewerage services in the country were opened to competition on 1 April and the number of business that have already changed supplier is expected to reach three figures this week.
"The framework in place is about as different as you can get," Sutherland said. He explained there are no regulations requiring a certain amount of water to be used before companies are eligible to switch supplier, such as those in England and Wales. This means more than 100,000 firms are eligible to change supplier. An independent industry body, the Central Market Agency, has been set up to handle the changes.
Wholesale prices have also been regulated so new licensees can earn a fair margin. The WICS has already approved five licences from Scottish firms to provide services. Sutherland said they were attracted by the level playing field.