The initiative was sparked by growing public awareness of issues such as smart metering, microgeneration and the rising cost of environmental programs, all of which make the question of what matters to consumers more complex, Ofgem said in a statement.

The project, named Consumer First, will start by assessing how well Ofgem understands what matters to consumers now. It will also look at the scope for getting direct consumer contributions to Ofgem’s deliberations over policy on customer issues.

Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan said: In Consumer First we are taking the initiative to compare our performance with best practice. With climate change rising up the agenda, the question of where the consumer interest lies may not be so straightforward. We need to make sure we are using the best available tools and techniques to help us understand and respond to consumers’ priorities.