Utility Week

UTILITY Week 31st October 2014

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UTILITY WEEK | 31sT OcTObEr - 6Th NOvEmbEr 2014 | 19 Finance & Investment This week Price freeze threat 'stifling investment' rudd: Labour's pledge to freeze retail energy prices has cost the UK £3bn in energy investment Labour's pledge to freeze retail energy prices if the party comes to power aer next year's gen- eral election has already cost the UK £3 billion in energy invest- ment over the past year, said energy minister Amber Rudd. The Conservative MP told del- egates at the Energy UK annual conference that the opposition should reconsider its threat to freeze energy prices for 20 months "in the wake of the evidence of the damage it's doing to the market". "The price freeze proposal put forward by Labour is already having a detrimental impact on investment – with some reports suggesting a £3 billion shortfall in invest- ment in the energy sector over the past year. And a price freeze would ultimately drive up costs for the very con- sumers Labour say they are trying to help," Rudd said. Energy firms are understood to be wary of committing to investment if earnings could take a hit in the planned freeze, and may also be delaying retail price cuts aer a year of low wholesale prices, as a result of the pledge. Earlier this year, the chief executive of RWE-owned Npower said the company would not reduce retail prices as a result of the risk the price freeze poses. Earlier at the conference, energy secretary and Lib- eral Democrat Ed Davey challenged Labour to make pub- lic the responses to its consultation on the freeze. The consultation was launched aer the pledge was made last year and was concluded in March, but the responses of industry, consumer groups and other stakeholders have not been made publicly available. JA ELEcTrIcITY Iberdrola questions Longannet's future The future of the Longannet coal-fired power station in Fife "has come under question" in Iberdrola's latest results. In the Spanish utility's nine- month results (Q3) for 2014, it stated that high transmission charges in Scotland had made it uneconomic for Scottish Power to bid the 2,400MW plant into the UK's capacity auctions due to take place in December – threatening the plant's future. This comes despite "improved" availability and performance at Longannet aer investment totalling more than £200 million in recent years, including between £20 million and £30 million last summer on boiler upgrades. The UK arm of the Spanish- owned utility saw net profit increase from €17.9 million in the first nine months of 2013 to €85.1 million in 2014, within which net losses in generation were reduced. Scottish Power's energy supply business maintained a "steady" profit margin of 4 to 5 per cent in this period. WaTEr Own price control for Tideway Tunnel The Thames Tideway Tunnel project is set to be granted a separate, but time-limited, price control by Ofwat. The regulator is consulting on plans to amend Thames Water's licence to introduce a separate price control and price limit for its activities in the delivery of the supersewer in 2015-20. Given the "size and complex- ity of the project", the govern- ment has specified the project should be delivered by a third- party infrastructure provider (IP). In the consultation, Ofwat stated: "We consider it is impor- tant that there is a clear bound- ary not only between Thames Water's and the IP's activities in the project, but also between Thames Water's activities in the project and the rest of its activi- ties." The consultation closes on 19 November. ELEcTrIcITY Ecotricity's Searaser passes first tests Ecotricity's Searaser wave power prototype has successfully com- pleted first-stage testing, and could reach commercial deploy- ment "within a few years", the company said. Ecotricity has spent the past 18 months, with marine energy consultant DNV GL Group, opti- mising the design and modelling outputs of the device in real- world conditions around Britain's coast. Testing was carried out at Plymouth University's CoastLAB wave tank on 25 and 26 October. Rudd: 'freeze would ultimately drive up costs' Stock watch 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 EDF sharE pricE, 30 sEptEmbEr - 28 OctObEr 30 Sep 7 Oct 14 Oct 21 Oct 28 Oct The share price of French energy giant EDF has shown signs of recovery over the past week after a dramatic fall two weeks ago due to a storm of unsettling news for investors. The parent company of EDF Energy recently saw its chief executive, henri Proglio, ousted from his position in the midst of regulatory negotiations with the French government. but confidence is returning to the market, with modest gains seen over the past week.

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