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UTILITY Week 19th June USE

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UTILITY WEEK | 19TH - 25TH JUNE 2015 | 13 Policy & Regulation This week GDNs poised to 'help facilitate shale gas' Gas distribution networks will 'play central role in connecting shale gas to the grid', says the ENA The gas distribution networks (GDNs) will "be on hand" to help facilitate shale gas, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) has said. A spokesperson for the group told Utility Week: "If policymak- ers decide to pursue this source of gas, then our networks will be on hand to play a central role in facilitating shale gas and connecting it to the grid." The ENA said shale gas "has the potential to play a role in the UK's energy mix" by helping to "diversify supply, lower costs, reduce reliance on imports and cut carbon emissions". "Research commissioned by the ENA demonstrated that keeping a variety of options open to decarbonise heat gives lower risks, and potentially a lower cost path, than pursuing a narrower end point," it added. This week, Lancashire County Council recommended that fracking firm Cuadrilla receive planning consent to extract shale gas at its Preston New Road site, marking the first time a council has backed an application for fracking since the government's temporary ban. The process to extract shale gas, known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has created controversy among policymakers and environmental groups. It requires a large amount of water and there are fears that chemicals could contaminate surrounding groundwater. There are also concerns that the process may cause earthquakes. In March, Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan insisted there was a "zero per cent" chance that the water supply would be polluted by fracking. LV ELECTRICITY SSE calls for single transmission price SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies has urged the energy secretary to change the electricity transmission charging structure, calling for the regional costs to be "flattened out". In a letter to energy secretary Amber Rudd, Phillips-Davies once again called for the intro- duction of a single "national price" for electricity transmis- sion charging, saying it would "make things far simpler for customers and facilitate switch- ing and tariff comparison". SSE owns and operates the electricity transmission system in the north of Scotland, which has the highest charging costs in the UK because of the large area it covers and the relatively small population it serves. These differences in transmission costs are then reflected regionally in consumer bills. WATER Ofwat 'forced' Welsh Water to cut jobs "Overzealous" PR14 financial restraints have forced Welsh Water to slash its workforce by 360 jobs, according to the GMB. Speaking to Utility Week, the GMB representative for the south west, Ken Baker, said the price review formed part of a "race to the bottom" being directed by government and the regulator. Baker said Welsh Water had "copped a heavy penalty" in the price review and is a victim of a "cheap is best" political agenda, which will force it to scale back its workforce by 10 per cent to meet its efficiency targets. He said the austerity agenda from the government had filtered through to Ofwat regulation and "if a regulator says a company has to manage with less money, it is bound to suffer". The job cuts come as Welsh Water embarks on a £56 million efficiency programme to deliver on its PR14 business plans, while investing £1.7 billion and keep- ing bill increases below inflation. ELECTRICITY Green light for DNO emergency number Communications regulator Ofcom has approved an applica- tion for an emergency telephone number, to go live in April 2016, allowing people to contact their electricity network. Following a consultation which began in February, the regulator agreed there was a "strong case" for a national three-digit number (105) for UK distribution network operators. The Energy Networks Asso- ciation, which is in charge of the project, said it "marks sig- nificant progress in the work to deliver an easy-to-recall contact number". Cuadrilla: council is backing its fracking plans Political Agenda Mathew Beech "SNP's growth spurt has left its expertise thinly spread" The SNP is loving life as a signif- icant player in Westminster and enjoying the fruits that come with being the third largest party in the House of Commons. Within the first month, the fledgling MPs have already tried to take the government to task by lodging early day motions calling for rethinks on onshore wind and small-scale hydro sub- sidy cuts – funnily enough, both things Scotland is blessed with. But the SNP's rapid growth spurt – climbing by 50 to 56 priorities, behind those of Euro- pean and Scottish affairs. MacNeil, who does not have a registered interest in energy, fol- lows in the wake of Tory grandee Tim Yeo. The work of select com- mittees isn't new to him though, having previously served on the Scottish Affairs Committee for three years from 2005. But without an experienced energy head, MacNeil will have to get to grips very quickly with the complicated legislation that surrounds the UK energy sector. MPs – has le its expertise and understanding of the Commons thinly spread, with only six experienced MPs, plus the wily political campaigner that is its former leader, Alex Salmond. Once the important jobs and major priorities – chief whip, Westminster leader, and so on – were dealt up, there were no key figures to become chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee. In the end, the SNP's pick was Angus MacNeil, one of its few MPs with knowledge of Westminster. But the failure to appoint Salmond, or previous energy spokesman Mike Weir, puts energy in a second tier of

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