Utility Week

UTILITY Week 19th May 2017

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Customers 28 | 19TH - 25TH MAY 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Ancala Partners and the Peel Group have joined forces to launch a new multi-utility operator, called Leep Utilities. The joint venture will provide a platform to invest in, and benefit from, the growth in inde- pendent gas, electricity, district heating and water networks. Under the agreement, Ancala has acquired a 50 per cent share in part of Peel's existing utilities PAN-UTILITY Ancala Partners and Peel Group to launch multi-utility operator business, which already owns and operates a range of private and regulated electricity, water and district heating utility assets. Peel's current multi-utility platform has more than 2,000 connections to homes and busi- nesses, including MediaCityUK, Liverpool Waters and Liverpool International Business Park. Leep Utilities will expand its offering to Peel developments, while bringing competition in the market for utility connec- tions to new commercial and domestic schemes. Ancala Partners' managing partner Spence Clunie said this is "another example of how we proactively source platforms that add value for our investors". The Peel Group's chief execu- tive Steven Underwood added: "The launch of this exciting This week Engie enters market with rollover pledge Automatically moving customers to the lowest tariff is 'the right thing to do', claims energy giant French energy giant Engie has entered the British home energy business with a commitment to put all customers onto its cheapest tariff whenever their fixed-term contracts end. Speaking to Utility Week, the divisional chief executive of energy solutions at Engie UK, Paul Rawson, said at the end of fixed deals, instead of automatically defaulting to the standard variable tariff, the supplier "will find the low- est unit" and "you will automatically go on that tariff ". "I think it's a great innovation and a great consumer solution," said Rawson. "It saves the effort and the frus- tration of having to continually switch supplier to get the best deal. It rewards loyalty and it's the right thing to do. "We also won't have any exit fees on the rollover tariff. People are free to go onto another energy tariff, or alternatively, switch to another supplier." The launch of Engie's home energy business comes at a time when energy suppliers are under pressure from politicians about price rises. Rawson told Utility Week the company is also planning to launch another product this summer, called the Engie Tracker, which will be based on wholesale prices. "We publish the baseline tariff," he promised. "We will also publish the assumption and then as the market evolves, we will adjust that price accordingly. We will get inde- pendent verification we are doing that in the correct way. "Effectively, we will pass on decreases on the whole- sale market. This is a tariff that is aimed at people who want price transparency, visibility of the market and trust the price is moving in the right way." All of Engie's domestic tariffs will also offer 100 per cent renewable electricity at no extra cost. JH ENERGY Call for innovation in regulatory system One of the co-founders of a new energy company has called on politicians to focus their efforts on creating a regula- tory framework that encour- ages innovation, rather than "headline-grabbing price caps". Speaking to Utility Week, Andrew Ralston, who is part of the team behind Pure Planet, said the idea of a price cap, which is being championed by both Labour and the Conserva- tives in the run-up to the general election, is "unhelpful" and "ultimately won't end up as the right solution for the consumer". "The need for competition and innovation in the sector is unquestionable," said Ralston. "We think companies need to flourish in a free market. I think the idea of a price cap, whether it's the Labour or the Tory ver- sion, is unnecessary. "When [Ed] Miliband talked of imposing a price freeze, prices rose immediately in the fear of that. I think they should learn from that and let the mar- ket innovate and differentiate. If anything, they should focus on creating a regulatory environment to encourage that, rather than put headline-grabbing price caps in." PAN-UTILITY Rental specialist targets growth Spark Energy has announced its acquisition of Sussex-based broadband company Home Tele- com, for an undisclosed sum. The deal is the firm's first since its management buyout in 2016, and will make it the UK's first multi-utility company aimed specifically at the rental sector. Home Telecom supplies fixed telephony, broadband and enter- tainment to the tenanted market. The acquisition will allow Spark to provide services tailored for shorter durations, in line with tenancy agreements. ENERGY Customers find price rises confusing The public are still confused about the reasons behind energy price rises, Wales & West Utili- ties' chief executive has claimed. Speaking at Utility Week's Wales energy conference in Cardiff, Graham Edwards said people are still "very confused about what are the real drivers for energy prices". "We all read the newspapers and watch the television and think what really influences it?" Edwards told delegates. "Are retailers ripping off the public? What's the real cost of energy going forward? I think there's a lot of demystifying to do there. I hear all the stuff that comes out from BEIS about sup- port by the public for renewa- bles, but what is never talked about is the cost. "There needs to be a more honest debate about what energy is going to cost, going into the future," added Edwards. Fresh approach: cheap tariff will be automatic new venture is directly aligned with our strategy of securing high-quality partners to invest alongside Peel for long-term growth." David Glover, operations director at the Peel Group, and chairman of Peel Utilities, commented: "Our utilities team have worked incredibly hard to establish a strong position in the marketplace."

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