Utility Week

Utility Week 9th January 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 9Th - 15Th JanUarY 2015 | 23 Customers This week South West warns against water theft Unauthorised use of standpipes puts water quality at risk and can result in a £3,000 fine South West Water has warned that customers who steal water from the public water supply will face prosecution. The company said unauthor- ised access to the public water supply puts the quality of the water supply at risk, as well as potentially damaging network infrastructure. South West Water's contracts, compliance and busi- ness development manager, Paul Mitchell, said: "Con- necting unauthorised standpipes to our network is an issue we take very seriously." He added: "It can also interfere with our customers' supplies or fire service activities. We monitor the use of our network closely and will take action against anyone who is detected making unauthorised use of a stand- pipe." Only authorised standpipes can be connected to South West Water's infrastructure at approved locations. Unauthorised use could result in a fine of up to £3,000 for each incident. The warning comes aer a number of businesses were prosecuted last year for unauthorised access to the water supply network. Kiely Bros, a road surfacing company from Bir- mingham, was ordered to pay a total of £2,003.70 aer using an unauthorised standpipe to access the water supply near Wellington; FCC Environment Services of Okehampton was ordered to pay £3,317.64; and Bristol-based CJL Construction was ordered to pay £2,574.40. MB EnErgY Average lifetime energy bill is £62,010 The average UK household will spend £62,010 on energy over a lifetime, research by price comparison website Uswitch.com has shown. Analysis of the Office for National Statistics' Fam- ily Spending report for 2013 revealed the average household will spend £713,232 on bills and living expenses over a lifetime, of which 8.5 per cent, or £1,378 a year, will be spent on energy. Uswitch.com said consum- ers could save £10,260 on their energy bills over a lifetime, or £288 a year, by switching energy provider. Despite the possibility of large savings, 62 per cent of con- sumers have never switched. Uswitch.com energy expert, Tom Lyon, said: "We are now spending double the amount of the average house deposit on our energy bills during a life- time, yet consumers could easily save £10,000 by switching to a better deal." EnErgY Citizens Advice calls for 'debt holiday' Citizens Advice has urged energy suppliers to offer prepayment customers a 'debt holiday' to prevent significant numbers from rationing their energy usage over the winter or cutting off their supply completely. The watchdog said custom- ers on prepayment meters are most likely to have problems paying winter fuel bills as new evidence showed they spend twice as much topping up their gas in winter as in the sum- mer because they are unable to spread the cost of higher winter bills throughout the year. Citizen's Advice said it saw a 66 per cent rise in the number of people seeking online help for problems paying fuel bills in the first three months of 2014 compared with 2013. EnErgY Earlier Warm Home Discount payments British Gas has made its Warm Home Discount payments to customers a month earlier than last year due to improved back office systems. The energy supplier said 130,000 more customers than last year received the £140 payment before Christmas and it expects to pay 600,000 of its customers a total of £84 million in Warm Home Discount pay- ments this financial year. According to British Gas, 400,000 customers had already received their payment in September and pay-as-you-go customers will receive bar-coded letters with which to top up their meters this month. Only authorised standpipes are permitted I am the customer Andrew Buckley "A reliable and affordable energy future is still elusive" Major energy users are confused. How could they not be? Despite the coalition's best efforts, a reliable and affordable energy future is still elusive. Why so? At the heart of the matter is that so much of the Electric- ity Market Reform package has been predicated on high energy prices. But aer Brent crude's plummet in value, the value of investing in the North Sea is undermined – along with the future of government's energy plans. charting a more sensible way forward – one in which constant intervention does not leave future plans in paralysis. The sooner the Competition and Markets Authority com- pletes its work the better and we can get back to something that resembles a workable energy future; a future in which cus- tomers and suppliers can take decisions with some confidence. Andrew Buckley, director general, Major Energy Users' Council This is not the first time policy makers have hit the rocks of a volatile global energy market and we can't expect 2015 to be any different. There has simply been too much impracti- cal govern ment intervention. Mixing up climate change objectives with making a market work must be the lesson to be learnt. If the general consen- sus is, quite rightly, for a lower carbon future, then the massive investments needed cannot not be paid for primarily out of customer bills. MEUC's main focus in 2015 is our new forum where suppliers, customers, consultancies and specialists put forward views on

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