Utility Week

Utility Week 6th December

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

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Community Disconnector Give and take Christmas! It's a time of year when almost everyone is filled with a sense of generosity and goodwill. And, of course, it's panto season. This year's star is David Cameron, who's providing a side-splitting reworking of Dick Whittington. He's playing a naive country bumpkin who goes to London to run the country but finds the streets are paved with banana skins rather than gold. His nemesis is Ed Miliband, who appears on stage behind him, all silly grin and jazz hands, while the audience screams: "Behind you!" Of course, as David slowly turns round, Ed cavorts round the front of the stage leaving David wondering where he's gone. If you haven't seen it, try to get a ticket. It's a hoot! Doing his best to breathe new life into Labour's screwball policies, Cameron this week delivered on his promise to "roll back green levies" and knocked, er, fifty quid off a £1,400 annual bill by scrapping help for the neediest, living in the poorest housing stock, just as temperatures plummet. Cameron's Australian election guru Lynton Crosby must be hoping that the pensioners who inevitably freeze to death this winter are not photogenic, or the Tories' woes are not going to thaw with the spring in 2014. For a real example of the Christmas spirit, you need look no further than Oxfordshire man Terry Atkinson, who last week received a whopping £150,000 Yeo to go? from a mysterious benefactor, who turned out to be none other than energy supplier Npower. Terry, an amateur actor who lives in a shared house and works in a call centre, checked his account hoping to find £70 and was surprised, to say the least, to find that it contained more than £150,000. Alas, if turned out not to be Great Expectations, and there was no guardian angel looking out for him. It was Npower. And it was a mistake. And it wanted its money back. Terry made no attempt to spend the cash and in fact contacted the firm to notify it of the mistake. He told local newspapers that he was confused by the error, however. He had not been an Npower customer since he was a student in 2008 and was puzzled as to why the company still had his bank details on file. All's well that ends well… You know the year is drawing to a close when there are lists of predictions about what the future will look like in the press, and to prove that Utility Week is no exception, here's some of the battier ones from Imagine 2050, a study by the London School of Economics and Veolia, about what life could look like in 2050. One of the most headlinegrabbing is an ultrasonic shower, which will clean a person by bombarding their body with ultrasonic waves that produce bubbles that explode on impact with dirt, thus obviating the need for showering with water. Disconnector thinks water firms need not worry too much about being stuck with a lot of unused water since the LSE boffins don't seem to have considered that getting clean is not the whole appeal of a shower. People often like to shower to "freshen up", or just to relax. Without the water, you're just standing butt-naked in a glass box for ten minutes. Which doesn't sound very relaxing. Neither is Disconnector convinced of the usefulness of "smart taps" that will turn on and off automatically according to whether they detect dirt on your hands. We already have sensors that can detect when you thrust your hands under the tap, so it seems like a lot of technology to dedicate to the task of telling you that your hands are clean and you can stop washing them now. When was that ever a problem? A lot more useful would be the nanobots Veolia predicts will be capable of sorting through your rubbish, recycling some stuff and converting other stuff into energy for you to use in the home. However, just because something is possible does not mean it's a good idea. It comes in the same week that Amazon floated the idea of using unmanned drones to deliver our online shopping in double-quick time. Do we really want to surround ourselves with nanobots and drones? What is wrong with these people? Have none of them seen Terminator? 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 In the same week that Cameron started rolling back "the green crap", one of the Tories' most outspoken proenvionmentalists, Tim Yeo, was deselected by his local constituency party in Suffolk in a secret ballot. In June, Yeo was caught up in a lobbying row in a sting by The Sunday Times, but was cleared last month of having broken the rules. Where's your loo? Compare and contrast. This week, archeologists in Argentina discovered the world's oldest "public toilet", a 240 million-yearold communal latrine that was frequented by reptiles called megaherbivores (apparently they look like rhinos). Thousands of fossilised poos were found clustered together, showing that the giant lizards were using public lavs hundreds of millions of years before we appeared on the scene. Also this week, pictures appeared of the world's "scariest loo", a wooden cubicle perched precariously at the edge of an 8,500ft drop in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. It seems unfair that it was the lizards who became extinct. Subscriptions:  UK £543 per year, Overseas £655 per year fhcustomerservices@ abacusemedia.com 3,580 Average circulation Jan–Dec 2012 UTILITY WEEK | 6th - 12th December 2013 | 31

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