Utility Week

UTILITY Week 4th April 2014

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UTILITY WEEK | 4Th - 10Th AprIL 2014 | 25 Customers This week SSE to freeze prices and split up business Supplier to fund 'bold move' with cut in offshore wind investment and the loss of up to 500 jobs SSE will freeze its electricity and gas prices for its customers until at least January 2016, it announced last week. The energy company also plans to legally separate its retail and wholesale businesses by March 2015, pre-empting Labour's threat to split up the big six if elected. To help fund the price freeze, SSE is slashing offshore wind investment (see p21) and cutting up to 500 jobs. It also expects its profit margin in supply to tighten. The supplier renewed calls on the government to remove green and social levies from energy bills and to put them onto general taxation. Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, said: "We're responding to the questions that have been asked of us with a positive agenda for customers, including the longest ever unconditional energy price freeze. To help us achieve that, we're making sure our own house is in order by streamlining and simplifying our business. We're doing our bit, but we don't want to stop at 2016. "So today we're making clear once again that we wish to work with people to find more ways of taking costs out of energy bills and, more specifically, to make sure the cost of energy taxes is paid for fairly in a way that is proportionate to people's income and protects the vulnerable." Consumer watchdog Which? praised SSE for making a "bold move" and its executive director Richard Lloyd added, "SSE has also shown the industry itself can take action to improve transparency." MD ELEcTrIcITY Interconnector boost could cut bills Doubling the UK's interconnec- tor capacity by the end of the decade could save consumers up to £1 billion a year on their electricity bills, according to National Grid. Analysis by National Grid highlighted potential savings of £13 per customer if the intercon- nector capacity to Europe is increased from the current 4GW to 8-9GW. The move would also bring the UK close to the Euro- pean benchmark of having 10 per cent of generation capacity from interconnectors. It is estimated that for every 1GW of additional intercon- nected capacity, wholesale prices in Britain could fall by up to 2 per cent. This benefit will arise because the analysis expects British wholesale elec- tricity prices to remain higher than those in neighbouring countries into the early 2020s. EnErgY Labour will extend price freeze to SMEs Small businesses will receive the same protections that households enjoy in the energy market, should Labour win the next general election, according to Ed Miliband. The Labour leader last Friday told the Federation of Small Businesses conference in Man- chester that small businesses would benefit from his party's promised price freeze, as well as households. Labour would also end automatic contract rollovers and "multiple years of back bill- ing" for business customers. Miliband claimed these actions would save small busi- nesses £5,500 a year on average. EnErgY Fuel poverty needs 'urgent action' Policies to tackle fuel poverty are "inadequate", according to a report by the UK fuel poverty monitor. The report, pub- lished by fuel poverty charities National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland, along- side Consumer Futures, warns that unless "urgent action" is taken, targets to eradicate fuel poverty will be missed. It highlighted that while con- sumers living outside England were more likely to be in fuel poverty, they were more likely to receive support for energy efficiency measures. Domestic electricity customers in England have an average of £3.52 invested in energy efficiency measures, compared with £36.48 in Scot- land, £31.31 in Wales and £27.55 in Northern Ireland. The report criticised the changes to the Energy Company Obligation, saying it was "insuf- ficient" to deal with fuel poverty. SSE's fuel prices will not rise before January 2016 I am the customer Ben Earl "The Water Label will save water, energy and money" We all love spending hours choosing the best product for our homes, right? Wrong! Hundreds of must-have gadg- ets all take their time to review to ensure we have the best one at the best price. Just how do we do it all in our increasingly busy lives? We oen rely on the expertise of plumbers or build- ers to recommend options. Well now a new agreement between the bathroom manufacturers and retailers will at least help customers to choose simply However, with a quarter of your energy bill coming from the use of hot water in the home, saving water will then save energy and even more money. So next time you choose a product that has a cheap ticket price but is ranked as poor on the Water Label, just consider the extra cost over the lifetime of using that product. Ben Earl is chair of the European Water Label and water efficiency manager at Southern Water between brands with future bills and water use in mind. The Water Label is being applied to all bathroom products stocked by a whole host of retail- ers such as B&Q, Homebase and Travis Perkins, to name just a few. For the first time the water use of a product is clearly indicated with colours similar to the energy label on fridges. This helps customers to choose a more efficient tap, shower, bath or toilet, which is particularly important to those already on a water meter. We know the value to our customers in the Southern region and with more regions being metered, it will become increasingly important.

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