Energy retail

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The government has pledged to introduce regulation for smart energy appliances "when Parliamentary time allows". This would set requirements based on the principles of interoperability, data privacy, grid stability and cyber security.
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GMB has announced its long-running dispute with Centrica over changes to British Gas workers’ contracts is over. The industrial action was the longest in Centrica’s history and centred on the company’s plans to undertake a massive restructure of the business.
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Ofgem has proposed taking on a strategic oversight role for energy code governance as part of a joint consultation with BEIS, published amidst a flurry of energy policy announcements. Presenting this as their preferred option for reform, they said the regulator would issue a strategic direction for energy codes on an annual basis and ensure it is delivered by a series of code managers that would take on most of the functions currently performed by industry-led code panels.
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A government-funded smart meter trial led to a dramatic reduction in average annual energy bills, while at the same time decreasing consumers’ carbon footprints.
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There is a “severe lack of detail” around how vast numbers of new EVs will be integrated into the energy system, an industry expert has warned. Conor Maher-McWilliams, head of flexibility at technology platform Kaluza, told Utility Week that there is a risk of looking back on the next decade with regret if the government’s transport strategy is not fully joined up.
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Latest in Energy retail

In Utility Week's latest round-up of sector appointments, energy technology platform Kaluza has appointed a new chief executive as it targets further international expansion, while the Energy Networks Association and Northern Powergrid have both appointed new directors.
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More than 13 million smart meters are now connected to the Data Communications Company’s (DCC) network, the latest figures show. The latest milestone in the smart meter rollout was reached when Octopus Energy installed an electric smart meter in Morecambe in Lancashire.
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In our latest review of sector coverage in the national newspapers, SSE calls for support to extend the lifetime of windfarms, while a coalition of energy firms urges the government to increase the scale and frequency of Contracts for Difference auctions. Meanwhile, Southern Water’s latest financial results show profits down by a third.
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The government's approach to the energy retail sector in its new strategy have been branded “disappointing” by the sector’s trade body. Energy UK said the multiple proposals presented a confused picture and that the blueprint overall was "looking to address a problem of the past, not looking to the future". Bulb also criticised the approach but consumer bodies welcomed the extension of the price cap.
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Ovo Energy wants to be in the vanguard of delivering new technologies and services to enable net zero. However, the company’s chief financial officer Bill Castell insists that first the energy retail market must be stabilised, to give both investors and consumers confidence. As part of Utility Week’s Countdown to COP campaign, he speaks to James Wallin.
Interviews
Plans have been unveiled by the government detailing how it intends to test automatic switching arrangements for disengaged customers, as well as for extending the price cap. The energy retail strategy confirms that BEIS intends to incrementally introduce opt-in switching, while also trialling an opt-out scheme. Meanwhile, legislation will be introduced to allow for future extensions of the cap beyond 2023.
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Krishnan Kasiviswanathan, chief operating officer at Innowatts, explains why suppliers need the capability to leverage half-hourly smart meter data and discusses the lessons that can be taken from US states such as California and Texas.
Opinion
Ecotricity has made a £45 million cash offer to buy the 75 per cent of shares it does not already own in Good Energy, despite already being rebuffed by its target’s board.
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A combination of Covid-19 and the recent industrial action from British Gas engineers cost Centrica an estimated £87 million, as well as a reduction in customers in the first half of this year. The process to update employee contracts as part of its major restructure announced last summer has been described as “challenging” by the British Gas owner. Elsewhere, the company updates on customer losses for its retail arm and services business.
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The government has outlined plans to tackle a market distortion from the energy company obligation (ECO), with a view to eventually removing supplier thresholds. In a new consultation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set out how it intends to expand the ECO scheme so more small suppliers would be obligated.
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