Utility Week

Utility Week 8th November 2013

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

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Community Disconnector Gamer gran gets British Gas They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Disconnector thinks it is probably true. Its modern day equivalent certainly is: an online video is worth a thousand letters of complaint. Step forward GamerGran87, to all intents and purposes a standard sweet little old lady, unusual only in the fact that she posts clips on YouTube of herself playing video games, an occupation more usually associated with adolescents. For those of you not familiar with the oeuvre, you can either record game footage of yourself pursuing the goals of the game and fighting bad guys, or you can record yourself shooting, running over or blowing up the innocent passers-by that inhabit the game's world, which gamers sometimes do to comic effect. GamerGran87's response to receiving notification from British Gas that it is putting up her direct debit 20 per cent was to go on a killing spree courtesy of the video game Grand Theft Auto 5. The consequent footage, entitled British Gas Rampage, features a split-screen of GamerGran87 going on the rampage ("Put my bills up 20 per cent would you? Thieving bastards!" she howls as she fires a rocket launcher into a crowd of bystanders). As of Tuesday, the video had been viewed 1.8 million times. You can't buy publicity like that, can you? If you want to watch the clip, It's a ghost! you can view it here: http://bit. ly/197oCfe, but Disconnector warns you that it contains some, er, ripe language. Oil be damned Sometimes, politicians get a totally unfair mauling from the tabloid press in this country. At other times they thoroughly deserve every brickbat that's thrown at them. This week was an example of the latter, with the news that 31 of Wales' 40 MPs have put in expenses claims for heating and lighting at their constituency homes, with three of them putting in claims of more than £1,000. The worst offender was Peter Hain, the Labour former Welsh secretary and leading proponent of a barrage across the Severn Estuary. He's put in a claim for an eye-watering £4,571 for heating oil and electricity at his Neath constituency. How big is Mr Hain's Neath home that it costs more than four grand a year to heat? Or is a neighbour tapping into his electricity supply and using it to power a smelter or something? At a time when politicians of every political hue are falling over each other to bring out the violin for the embattled householder outrageously forced to pay for the energy they consume, now is not the time to have revealed that you get it for free. Which of course is what makes it such a good story. In the interests of fairness, Disconnector must point out that the average claim by the other Wales MPs was only £287, but of course the mainstream press will feel no such need for fair play. It's like the chap in the expenses scandal claiming for the duck house. It sticks in the mind – and in the craw – even if it's perfectly within the rules. Sucker punch Those boys and girls in Brussels doubtless dream of making the world a better place, but they don't seem to anticipate how their "big ideas" will go down among their critics, who in this country are a numerous and vocal band. The European Commission's latest wheeze to make sure all us naughty citizens don't use too much electricity is to mandate that from next September vacuum cleaners can draw a maximum load of 1,600W. From September 2017 they will be limited to 900W. The headlines just write themselves, don't they? "First they have a go at our sausages, now they want us to live in filth!" Or something along those lines. The Daily Mail likes to paint a cartoonish picture of Euro bureaucrats as humourless pen-pushers always looking for new ways to stifle business and inconvenience consumers with petty rules and regulations. With a referendum on EU membership coming by 2017, it might help supporters of the European project if they didn't try so hard to play to type. Editor:  Ellen Bennett, t: 01342 332084, e: ellen.bennett@fav-house.com; Energy editor:  Megan Darby, t: 01342 332087, e: megan.darby@fav-house.com; Features editor:  Karma Ockenden, t: 01342 332086, e: karma.ockenden@fav-house. com; Reporter:  Mathew Beech, t: 01342 332082, e: mathew.beech@fav-house.com; Reporter:  Conor McGlone, t: 01342 332083, e: conor.mcglone@fav-house.com; Production editor:  Paul Newton, t: 01342 332085; Business development manager: Ed Roberts, t: 01342 332067, e: ed.roberts@fav-house.com; Sales executive: Nicky Shaw, t: 01342 332070, e: nicky.shaw@fav-house.com; Publisher:  Amanda Barnes, e: amanda.barnes@fav-house.com. General enquiries:  01342 332000; Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year, t: 01342 332011. ISSN: 1356-5532. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Printed by: Buxton Press, Palace Road, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE. Published by:  Faversham House Ltd, Windsor Court, Wood Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1UZ Workers at Severn Trent Water's Draycote Water reservoir in Warwickshire could have been forgiven for approaching last week's Hallowe'en with trepidation after members of the public reported a ghostly apparition flitting around in the trees… which turned out to be an albino squirrel! Thanks to the patience of Stephen Batt, chairman of the Rugby group of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, we have the rodent on film. But wait! Is it really an albino squirrel, or is it a ghost of an ordinary squirrel? Disconnector will have to let readers make up their own minds (oh alright, it's an albino squirrel). Cooking with gas Researchers at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have created a prototype toilet that turns human waste into biogas, which can be reused for cooking. Ingenious, but it means you're effectively cooking with your own farts, which is not going to be an easy sell. Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year fhcustomerservices@ abacusemedia.com 3,580 Average circulation Jan–Dec 2012 UTILITY WEEK | 8th - 14th November 2013 | 31

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