Utility Week

Utility Week 6th Dec 2019

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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UTILITY WEEK | 6TH - 12TH DECEMBER 2019 | 3 This week 4 | Seven days 6 | Election 2019 Conservative manifesto dodges climate questions 8 | Election 2019 Baroness McIntosh says water fi rms must lose the 'fat cat' label 11 Policy & Regulation 11 | News Call for party leaders to make climate pact 12 | Analysis What renationalisation could mean for the water sector 14 | Market view The benefi ts of fi eld service management 15 | Chief executive's view Mark Bygraves, ELEXON 17 Finance & Investment 17 | News EDF gives go-ahead to offshore wind farm 19 | Analysis Labour's renationalisation proposal would cost investors 20 Operations & Assets 20 | High viz Centrica's King's Lynn power station 21 | Market view Weather complaints set to surge 22 | Event Electrifying opportunities at Accelerate19 25 | Market view Net zero needs the backing of landowners 26 Customers 26 | News Millions of smart meters still 'dumb' 27 | Market view Long-term value from ERM 30 Community 31 | Disconnector Mando: Improving experiences for vulnerable customers https://bit.ly/361toNK See the Community section, page 30 If you are responsible for your company's outsourced or internal customer service centre we can deliver compelling cost savings to your business, with a typical rate for an FTE of just £10 per hour. Synergy operates an established Contact Centre in a modern and thriving part of Durban, South Africa employing experienced and highly educated staff. We already successfully work with a number of UK utilities across a range of services: If you would like to see our operation for yourself we can fly you, at our cost, to South Africa. Here we will give you a full tour of our facilities, a presentation on how we work and access to our professional teams. For further information please contact steve.cripwell@synergyoutsourcingltd.co.uk / 020 7932 4171 or toby.selves@synergyoutsourcingltd.co.uk / 020 7932 4116 BASEC: DNOs need tried and tested cabling systems they can rely on https://bit.ly/33WYzYv https://bit.ly/33WYzYv Leader Suzanne Heneghan An industry divided It's set to go down as the industry's most divisive issue of 2019 – not Brexit, the energy price cap. The government policy on default tari• s has polarised energy retail opinion, caused some dramatic fallout, and it isn't yet a year old. This week it felt like it was back in the news once more as the chief executive of Eon UK – the supplier set to inherit Npower's domestic customers – faced the cameras to con‚ rm a signi‚ cant number of UK jobs were going at the beleaguered retailer (see lead story, p4). The cutbacks, as part of a two-year programme, are "absolutely critical" to sustain its future, explained Michael Lewis, while pointing to a UK energy retail market experiencing "considerable strain". While Npower has other historic issues, the culpability of the price cap was also implicit in his words. It was the cap that was cited for undermining Npower's proposed merger with SSE only a few months ago, and more broadly, since its introduction on 1 January this year, it has played a leading role in other market drama – incumbents haemorrhaging customers; Centrica's legal challenge to the regulator over how it is calculated; and SSE's sale of its retail arm to Ovo. Throughout it all, Eon's boss has been one of the cap's most vocal critics. He warned Utility Week Congress in the October before its intro- duction that, while he accepted "parliament had spoken", it was criti- cal this intervention was "workable", paying due regard to operational costs and headroom. Not all companies have the same customer base, he said, adding that a higher cost to serve customer mix could make it increasingly hard to hit Ofgem's benchmarks. The hindsight of 11 months makes that plea to the regulator now sound positively predictive. It was a theme picked up by Energy UK director Audrey Gallacher during an industry debate in September, who said up to 10,000 jobs were expected to be lost in energy retail before the end of the year as industry struggled to adapt to the price cap. Compare this with the conviction of those players who see the cap as "absolutely working", the takeover of SSE by a strong newer entrant as a positive; and increased switching a testament to how competition is changing old norms, and you have a highly divided market. Debate will continue about when the "temporary" cap will end; if new legislation will extend it; what a "son of price cap" might look like; and if the market has been revolutionised or damaged irrevocably. Predicting 2020 just got harder. Suzanne Heneghan, editor, suzanneheneghan@fav-house.com COVER STORY 6 | Election 2019 Parties chase the green vote while dodging the detail CEO VIEW 15 | Energy codes need to change with the times HIGH VIZ 20 | Kings Lynn is back in business EVENT REPORT 22 | It's time EVs gained some serious speed

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