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Ofgem has approved more than £20.9 billion of spending by electricity distribution networks as part of its draft determinations for the RIIO ED2 price controls. The figure is down by £4.3 billion – or 17% - from the more than £25.2 billion of total expenditure allowances requested by distribution network operators in their business plans submitted in December. The regulator has also confirmed the baseline returns for investors for the five-year price controls, which begin in April 2023.
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The Climate Change Committee (CCC)'s chief executive has said he is "not at all concerned" about temporary extensions to coal power plants' lifetimes, given the current pressures on security of supply. However, the body has warned a "shocking gap" exists in energy efficiency policy and that generally the government is taking a "high-wire" approach to meeting its net-zero targets.
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South West Water has become the sixth wastewater company that Ofwat has opened an enforcement case against as part of its ongoing investigation into wastewater treatment works. The regulator also provided an update on the investigation, saying some companies may not be properly assessing the compliance of sites with treatment requirements and may lack the operational data to do so.
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SSE Thermal and Equinor have purchased Triton Power from Energy Capital Partners for £341 million as part of the companies’ hydrogen ambitions for the Humber region. Triton Power operates the Saltend power station – a 1.2GW combined-cycle gas turbine and combined heat and power plant to the north of the Humber Estuary – that is expected to become a primary offtaker for Equinor’s planned H2H Saltend hydrogen production facility.
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"Onerous" new government regulations, which make all floating wind power projects spell out their supply chain plans regardless of their size, threaten to “impede” the fledgling sector's development, Labour’s shadow energy minister has warned. During a House of Commons debate on revisions to Contracts for Difference regulations, Alan Whitehead questioned why the government intends to remove the 300MW minimum size threshold that applies to other types of projects.
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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks has described Ofgem’s draft determinations for the RIIO ED2 price controls as “tough and stretching” after seeing the largest proportional decrease in its total expenditure (totex) allowances. In its business plan, the distribution network operator requested around £4,232 million of totex allowances for the five-year price controls beginning in April 2023, which the regulator reduced by around £946 million – or 22.4% - to £3,286 million.
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The secretary of state for energy has hinted that a wide-ranging reform of the wholesale power market is on the cards, after telling MPs that the price of electricity cannot “forever” be linked to that of gas.
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Utility Week's latest round-up of appointments across the sector includes a new chair at the Environment Agency; a non-executive director joining SES Water from BP and a new addition to the Crown Estate.
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The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has announced its first investigation will be to determine the respective responsibilities of Defra, Ofwat and the Environment Agency with regards to the monitoring and regulation of combined sewer overflows, and whether or not they have each fulfilled their regulatory duties. The body’s chief regulatory officer Helen Venn said the probe could lead enforcement activity as well as broader actions to improve legal and regulatory systems.
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Ofgem has proposed to extend its market stabilisation charge and ban on acquisition-only tariffs until the end of March 2023. The temporary measures, which came into effect in mid-April, were introduced by the regulator in response to the massive surge in gas and electricity since last autumn. Both are currently set to expire at the end of September.
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SSE has signed a contract with Wartsila to build its first grid-scale battery storage facility in the UK – a 50MW/100MWh system at Salisbury in Wiltshire that will be connected directly to the transmission network. The project is being developed by SSE’s new solar and battery division, which has secured a 380MW pipeline of projects over the last year and currently has another 1GW of sites under assessment.
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Centrica has unveiled plans for a programme to train up to 500 ex-military personnel in engineering roles to help the company reach its net zero target by 2045. The British Gas owner is working alongside consultancy Matero, led by former Army colonel Stuart Tootal, to design and build the programme, which hopes to attract “significant numbers of service leavers” by the end of next year.
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A government decision to use an algorithm to identify recipients of the Warm Homes Discount has sparked concerns that it could result in a 2020 school results-style fiasco with eligible households missing out on payments. The government has said it will use an algorithm to determine households’ eligibility for rebates through the discount scheme based on their estimated energy costs.
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Ofgem has issued a consultation on the true-up process for companies claiming back unrecoverable wholesale costs incurred by becoming a Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR). The consultation comes after the regulator introduced a temporary process in December to expedite the assessment of initial claims following dozens of supplier failures over the preceding months.  
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