Utility Week

Utility Week 1st December 2017

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Community Timeless words In uncertain times it's not surprising that people look for solace from the past. That's probably why beards are back in fashion, or why people are prepared to pay an extra fiver for anything prefaced by the word "artisan". It's easy to sneer, but devel- opments this week have made Disconnector think there may be wisdom in the past aer all. A team of academics from the linguistics department at the University of York spent several months scouring old texts for forgotten words they thought could fit back into modern English, and then asked people to vote for their favourite. Of the 30 words put for- ward, the winner by a country mile was "betrump", which means to deceive or to cheat. You bet it does. A bit of magic The water sector is oen con- sidered old school, what with its retained ethos of public service, but some folks working for water companies are taking their reverence for the past a bit too seriously, it seems. When a water engineer turned up at a couple's house in Stratford-upon-Avon to trace the path of a buried water pipe, they were somewhat surprised that he pulled out a couple of "bent tent pegs" to help him in the task – a practice better known as water divining. As luck would have it, the couple's daughter, Sally Le Page, is an evolutionary biolo- gist at an Oxford university. Her curiosity piqued, she contacted Severn Trent (whose patch it was) on Twitter to query their engineers' use of divining rods and got the response that "some old methods are just as effective as new ones". Casting her net wider, she claims she got similar responses from Anglian Water, Thames Water, Scottish Water, Southern Water, Welsh Water, United Utilities and Yorkshire Water. Severn Trent has since issued a statement clarifying that it doesn't issue divining rods to its engineers, although it conceded that some of them "may use them". A bemused Sally said: "I can't state this enough: there is no scientifically rigorous, dou- bly blind evidence that divin- ing rods work." Which, while it might be true, does rather go against the spirt of the times, thinks the great man. Science is, aer all, just the other guy's opinion. Amiright? That said, Disconnector counsels that liveried employ- ees try not to get themselves photographed rods in hand. It probably wouldn't play well when their employers pitch Ofwat for more money. And definitely no rain dances. Feeling a bit flat If only someone could settle once and for all the burning question, is the world flat? Step forward Californian limo driver and amateur rocket enthusiast "Mad" Mike Hughes, who reckons the whole "round Earth" thing is a big lie and has spent £15,000 building a home- made rocket that he plans to launch over the Mojave Desert with him in it so he can take a look for himself. The 61-year-old is reported telling Associated Press: "This is the king of the deceptions. This is it. And once this domino falls and more people come to this side, then everything else – the dominos structure falls." Mr Hughes has taken flight in a home-made rocket before, in 2014, and didn't get anything for his trouble except a long stint in hospital. However, he is not a man to be deterred by the threat of ridicule or serious injury. "If you're not scared to death, you're an idiot," he's reported as saying. "It's scary as hell, but none of us are get- ting out of this world alive." Which is both true, and in Mr Hughes's case, prophetic. Disconnector Editor, Utility Week, and content director, Utilities: Ellen Bennett, t: 01342 332084, e: ellenbennett@fav-house.com; Deputy editor: Jane Gray, t: 01342 332087, e: janegray@ fav-house.com; Features editor: Lois Vallely, t: 01342 332080, e: loisvallely@fav-house.com; Deputy news editor: Katey Pigden, t: 01342 332082, e: kateypigden@fav-house.com; Content editor: Alice Cooke, t: 01342 332102, e: alicecooke@fav-house.com; Senior reporter: Tom Grimwood, t: 01342 332061, e: tomgrimwood@fav-house.com; Policy correspondent: David Blackman, e: davidblackman@fav-house.com; Production editor: Paul Newton, t: 01342 332085, e: paulnewton@fav-house.com; Sales executive: Ben Hammond, e: benhammond@fav-house. com. t: 01342 332009; Conference sponsorship manager: Sophie Abbott, t: 01342 332062, e; sophieabbott@ fav-house.com; Publisher: Amanda Barnes, e: amandabarnes@fav-house.com. General enquiries: 01342 332000; Membership enquiries: Peter Bissell, t: 01342 332057, e: peterbissell@fav-house.com. ISSN: 1356-5532. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Printed by: Buxton Press, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AE. Published by: Faversham House Ltd, Windsor Court, Wood Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 1UZ. 3,580 Average circulation Jan–Dec 2015 Membership subscriptions: UK £669 per year. Overseas £781 per year. Contact Peter Bissell on: 01342 332057 Utility Week is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK's magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors' Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards and want to make a complaint please contact the editor, Ellen Bennett, at ellenbennett@fav-house.com. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors' Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit www.ipso.co.uk Ann Robinson @AnnRobinson8 Now Industrial Strategy proposals published will we see next stage of energy strategy emerging? Think there might be some consumer friendly surprises. Leonie Greene @LeonieGreene 'Embrace the future' says @PhilipHammondUK. Last year we delivered a petition of 200K to @hmtreasury asking them to drop the #SolarTaxHike with @GreenpeaceUK. No progress. All meetings refused - including with MPs. Alan Whitehead @alanwhiteheadmp New Control for Low Carbon Levies in budget looks like a catastrophic shut down for most of Britain's Renewables industry. NO new levies until at least 2025, and no indication of alternative ways of underwriting. Means no new solar PV no new onshore wind, and no support for tidal. Thomas Edwards @TomHenryEdwards No new low carbon levies means schemes likely to move into Capacity Market, which is likely to see rule changes next year to allow subsidy-free renewables into the auction Richard Nourse @RichardHCNourse One of the unarguable conclusions of @dieterhelm Cost of Energy Review is that persistent carbon price is THE KEY MARKET tool for delivering decarbonisation. Conservatives surely must support that. Alasdair Cameron @ACameronFOE Carbon price is not just there to phase out coal, but to help internalise costs of pollution. We need to start phasing out gas soon too. Freezing it is bad. William Marchant @richonlyinname British Gas's pricing strategy of having no meaningful acquisition tariff is seeing its portfolio shrink rapidly, as it can only lose customers and can't credibly win them back. 823,000 customer accounts lost since June. Greg Jackson @g__j Centrica's woes are those of a company addicted to finding ways to overcharge customers rather than reduce prices. Losing idea in long run. Top Tweets UTILITY WEEK | 1ST - 7TH DECEMBER 2017 | 31

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