Utility Week

UTILITY Week 11th April 2014

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4 | 11th - 17th April 2014 | UtilitY WEEK National media March electricity switching figures Electricity switching levels "returned to normal" in March, following a mid-winter spike in November and December, according to Energy UK. 265,951 number of switches in March 2014 43.73% small supplier gains 7% increase in the number of switches between February and March 9.55% increase in the number of switches between March 2013 and March 2014 British Gas boss 'should give up bonus' The boss of British Gas faced calls to give up his bonus on Tuesday aer it emerged he was in line for a £400,000 payout – amid allegations the energy giant rips off loyal customers. The bonus is expected to push Chris Weston's total earnings for 2013 to in excess of £1 million as part of a £6.6 million annual pay pot for the top five executives at parent company Centrica. The Telegraph The blackout blackmailer Centrica's scaremonger chief execu- tive Sam Laidlaw has claimed that an inquiry into rip-off energy prices could turn our lights out. The fatcat, whose firm runs British Gas, threatened the probe would delay investment in new power plants. Asked if the lights would go out, he said: "There is an increasing risk." It came as regulator Ofgem was blasted for taking too long to pro- tect consumers aer it emerged the new probe could take 18 months. Daily Mirror Criticism overshadows good news for energy "The big six have a huge amount on their plate at the moment, with the CMA referral and the pressure they're seeing on prices," said Danielle Lane, head of regula- tory relations at Denmark's Dong Energy, a big wind investor in the UK. But their retreat from wind power was "overshadowing the good news in the sector", she added. Financial Times story by NUMbErs Mergers in the water sector look increasingly likely aer Ofwat last week soened its stance on consolidation. Small water-only companies (Wocs) will come under pressure to sell as the regulator seeks to end the practice of giving them more generous financial allowances. Activity could ramp up from early 2015, when the price review (PR14) is completed and companies have their settle- ments for the next five years. The government's recent U-turn to allow companies to exit the retail market when it opens in 2017 has also opened the door to the formation of big retail specialists. Chief executive Cathryn Ross said at Ofwat's City Briefing last Friday "changes to the industry structure may be appropriate". She declined to say how many companies there should be, but added: "I would be sur- prised if 18 vertically integrated companies was the most appro- priate structure." Ofwat used to permit Wocs a "small company premium" of around 0.5 per cent upli on the cost of capital. Now, it is saying Wocs will have to show that their small size delivers customer benefits that justify the higher cost. Sonia Brown, chief regulation officer, told investors in January there would be a "high bar" for evidence of this. That tougher stance puts the onus on Wocs to seek more efficient finance, potentially by merging. Richard Laikin, director of utilities at PwC, said: "There is a whole range of factors that are going to increase the likelihood of mergers." MD Seven days... "It is the cheapest large- scale green technology, and I would not want to do anything to reduce its deployment" Energy secretary Ed Davey backs onshore wind Ofwat softens stance on barring water mergers €300 million Fine levied by the European Commission on 11 cable manufacturers for running a cartel

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