Utility Week

Utility Week 14 03 14

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UTILITY WEEK | 14Th - 20Th March 2014 | 13 Policy & Regulation This week Ofgem to investigate slow storm response regulator found UKPN and SSE were slowest to respond after networks were hit by bad weather UK Power Networks (UKPN) and SSE could face fines as Ofgem last week launched an investiga- tion into their response to storms that hit over Christmas. The regulator examined the performance of all six distribu- tion network operators (DNOs) hit by the extreme weather and found UKPN and SSE had been slowest to respond. Nearly a million households lost power for more than three minutes between 23 and 28 December, as high winds battered power lines. While 95 per cent were back online within 24 hours, some 500 customers in UKPN and SSE's areas were without electricity for more than five days. Western Power Distribution won praise for respond- ing to calls "almost immediately", while a fih of UKPN and SSE customers hung up before getting through to an adviser. UKPN was hardest hit by the storms, which caused more than 2,000 faults across its three regions, cutting off 358,000 customers. Chief executive Basil Scarsella said he was confident that "once the impact of the storm on our service area is taken into account, our perfor- mance over Christmas will stand up well to scrutiny". SSE had the second highest number of disruptions to handle, with 264,000 customers affected. Alongside the investigation, Ofgem will consult on raising the level of compensation available to custom- ers cut off during bad weather. DNOs estimate 26,000 customers are entitled to a total of £2 million at statutory rates. UKPN and SSE volunteered a further £7.5 million to affected customers in their areas. MD rENEWabLES North Blyth biomass power plant is axed RES has axed plans for a 100MW biomass power plant in North- umberland, citing increased policy uncertainty. The independent renewable energy developer said govern- ment's "inconsistent support" for dedicated biomass energy over the past two years "criti- cally undermined the investment case" for the station. The £300 million North Blyth project was set to employ 300 people in construction and 50 to run the plant in the long term. Gordon MacDougall, RES's chief operating officer for the UK, said it was "bitterly disap- pointing" not to be able to go ahead, but "the gradual erosion of support for dedicated biomass leaves us with no other option". rENEWabLES Cameron meets Irish PM to talk wind Plans to import wind power from Ireland were on David Cameron's agenda on Tuesday amid wide- spread reports the scheme, worth up to 8GW, has been shelved. The prime minister was due to discuss the matter with his opposite number in Ireland, Enda Kenny, as Utility Week went to press, following a breakdown in talks between their respective energy ministers. Two companies, Mainstream Renewable Power and Element Power, are leading efforts to erect 1,000 turbines across central Ireland to connect to the British grid. The power generated would contribute to meeting the UK's 2020 renewable energy target. Irish energy minister Pat Rab- bitte said last week the deal was unlikely to go ahead in time: "In terms of the timelines dictated both by European policy and the exigencies imposed on develop- ers – in other words between now and 2020 – I can't now see an export project as envisaged." ENErgY Call for evidence on white label suppliers Ofgem has issued a call for evi- dence on white label energy sup- pliers as the regulator examines how the providers fit with its Retail Market Review reforms. In an open letter, Maxine Frerk, partner for retail markets and research at Ofgem, said the regulator recognised "that white labels have the potential to deliver greater consumer choice and competition". However, she also stated "white labels might undermine our aim of a simpler retail energy market and weaken consumer protections". All responses need to be submitted by 4 April 2014, and Ofgem will consult formally on its options on white label suppli- ers in the summer. Line down: UKPN was hardest hit by the storms Political Agenda Mathew Beech "There does not seem to be help for jobs at Eggborough" Michael Fallon is a concerned man. Not only is he concerned about "hardworking families" across the country feeling the benefits of the Tories' long- term economic plan, but he is concerned for those whose jobs are at risk. The business and energy minister has voiced his con- cerns at the impact the coali- tion's policy costs are having on energy-intensive industries. He said there is a "very real" threat to jobs in the steel and from coal to biomass. So why are those in Ports- mouth getting the benefit of Fallon, while those in the Selby and Ainsty constituency are not? Take a look at the 2010 election results. Selby and Ainsty is a safe Conservative seat, while the Portsmouth North and South constituencies are marginal. So while Fallon and the government are concerned about jobs, they seem to be more con- cerned about jobs that could help them to win the general election. chemical industries due to high, and increasing, energy costs – largely due to planned increases to the carbon floor price. In January, Fallon took on a third role as the minister for Portsmouth, to help the city recover from the loss of ship- building. More than 900 jobs were lost and the Conservatives' go-to minister was tasked with limit- ing the impact on the area. Despite his obvious concerns for jobs, Fallon, and the Tories, do not seem to be offering any direct help for the 850 jobs that are at risk at Eggborough aer the power station missed out on subsidies to fund its conversion

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