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Flex assured? Inside the ADE’s DSR code of conduct

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The warnings couldn’t be much clearer. If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to act now. Several recently published reports including the IPCC’s Global Warming of 1.5C and the UN’s Emissions Gap Report 2018 have demonstrated that we are at a critical point in the development not only of the UK’s energy policy, but of energy policy around the world.

Low carbon generation will play a critical role in this transition, but the most cost effective and low carbon energy will always be the energy we don’t have to generate. Demand side response, where users change their energy usage patterns in response to a signal from the network operator, is a rapidly growing market in the UK, with the system operator aiming to meet 30–50 per cent of balancing capability from demand response by 2020.

The DSR market offers triple benefits: it creates a balanced grid, supports our move to a decarbonised energy system and reduces energy costs for businesses who take part.

There is huge untapped potential for DSR. The government has stated its commitment to supporting market growth. But, as this is a relatively new and complex market, action is needed to support more participation. Industry - through the Association for Decentralised Energy - has stepped up to provide this support.

The launch in early November of Flex Assure, a code of conduct for demand side response (DSR) aggregators was the culmination of months of intensive work by the ADE and 18 different aggregators and eight stakeholders.

This code sets common standards for those who aggregate demand response from individual customers and will be followed by a compliance scheme early next year. Its intent is to give market participants, many of whom are not primarily focused on energy and who do not understand the complexities of DSR, the assurance and confidence in the services that they are going to receive.

Flex Assure aims to ensure high standards among members and provide businesses with peace of mind when they come to choosing who they work with for DSR, making it easier to discern the claims of one aggregator partner over another.

The code focuses on five areas and proposes minimum standards in each:

1. Sales and marketing

Sales representatives must be properly trained and provide honest and factual marketing material to customers.

2. Technical due diligence and site visits

Critical energy assets must be safe from the threat of cyber-crime, requiring best practice to protect each customer’s data and infrastructure. To protect on-site personnel, site visits must be conducted in a safe and secure manner.

3. Proposals and pre-contractual information

The pre-contracting process must be transparent and not make false promises to customers. It must also be representative of true savings and payback to customers.

4. Customer contracts

Contracts must be accurate and clearly indicate any potential obligations customers may be committing to.

5. Complaints

There must be clear, transparent processes for recording, processing and responding to complaints.

Flex Assure is leading the way in ensuring trust in a continually evolving energy system, one in which DSR will play a critical role in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees and maximising energy productivity. Flex Assure empowers businesses to participate in the transition to a decarbonised energy system; and importantly insures that this does not come at a cost to their business allowing them to compete on a level-playing field with their competitors.

Flex Assure would not have been possible without the incredible support that it has received from stakeholders. Its formation has been a positive collaboration between parties who want to enable a level playing field in the rapidly change energy system that the UK is witnessing.

The ADE would like to acknowledge the support of the following aggregators and stakeholders:


  • Ameresco
  • Centrica
  • E.ON
  • Energy Pool
  • Enel X
  • Engie
  • Flexitricity
  • GridBeyond
  • Kiwi Power
  • Limejump
  • npower Business Solutions
  • Open Energi
  • Origami
  • Reactive Technologies
  • SSE
  • SmartestEnergy
  • Upside Energy Ltd
  • Veolia


  • Aggregate Industries
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • The National Cyber Crime Centre
  • CBI
  • Crown Commercial Service
  • Ofgem
  • National Grid
  • Major Energy Users’ Council

John Bryant Head of business development, the Association for Decentralised Energy


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