Policy & regulation

Latest updates and analysis on how government and regulators' decisions will impact the sector 

Editor's picks

The government has pledged in its Net Zero Strategy to look at options, including carbon pricing, to shift green levy costs from electricity to gas, while announcing £620 million of additional funding to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs). Utility Week examines the key proposals contained within this long-awaited roadmap to 2050.
News
Three possible pathways towards the decarbonisation of the economy have been set out in the Net Zero Strategy. The strategy noted that the three scenarios – high electrification, high resource and high innovation – are only intended to be illustrative, representing a range of practical ways in which net zero could be delivered rather than the mostly likely or preferred solutions.
News
The government has confirmed that households will be offered £5,000 grants to install low carbon-heating through a new £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme in its much-anticipated Heat & Buildings Strategy. The strategy also commits to a new target that by 2035 no new gas boilers will be installed for home heating.
News

Featured

Utility Week launches a new campaign aimed at ensuring the current focus on the energy retail market results in real reform, not more tinkering at the edges. Energy Reset seeks meaningful protection for consumers, an end to the damaging obsession with auto-switching and steps towards long-term relationships between retailers and their customers to drive forward the energy transition.
Analysis
The collapse of Avro Energy, affecting 580,000 customers, presents a significant test for Ofgem’s Supplier of Last Resort mechanism. Experts tell David Blackman that it’s a "flip of a coin” as to whether the process will cope.
Opinion
The need to adopt methane strategies is an under-explored area of net-zero policy but there are still important steps that can be taken by the government and Ofgem. Maxine Frerk delves into the issue in her latest column for Utility Week.
Opinion

Latest in Policy & regulation

The Environment Agency's third climate adaptation report to government carries the stark message to "adapt or die". It said urgent action was required to help communities and industries live with the effects of climate change and this should be given as much focus as reducing emissions.
News
The founders of Pure Planet have hit out at the government’s “illogical” failure to support the energy retail sector, as they confirmed the supplier was exiting the market. Andrew Ralston, Chris Alliott and Steven Day confirmed that BP, which owns 24 per cent of the company, had withdrawn its support because of the “increasing risks and large potential losses” faced. Ofgem also confirmed that Colorado Energy has ceased trading.
News
It is “unacceptable” that fuel poor households receive less than one-sixth of the budget allocated to energy efficiency and support with fuel bills, the government’s statutory advisor on fuel poverty has said. In its annual progress report, the Committee on Fuel Poverty also warned ministers against raiding energy efficiency budgets to pay for the decarbonisation of heating, saying it should instead be supported with additional dedicated funding.
News
As part of the Energy Reset campaign, Utility Week speaks to the MP who spearheaded calls for an energy price cap. John Penrose discusses his vision for the cap, his fear of of losing the “dynamism” now inherent in the retail market, why green levies should be phased out "not moved around" and that the future of auto-switching needs “careful consideration” in the light of recent events.
Interviews
The Energy and Utilities Alliance has implored the government to temporarily remove VAT on energy to provide relief to consumers facing soaring bills. The trade association for manufacturers of heating equipment acknowledged that it is not a “perfect solution” but said it is only way to head off a “catastrophe” this winter.
News
Renewable UK has petitioned the government to double the capacity of onshore wind generation in the country to 30GW by 2030. As one of the cheapest forms of generation available in the UK, the association said this would reduce energy bills by £16.3 billion over the course of the decade – an annual saving of £25 per household – and ensure net zero emissions are achieved at the lowest cost.
News
Ofwat has said it won't yet make adjustments to outcome delivery incentives that may have been impacted due to Covid-19 and lockdowns. The regulator set out the draft in-period payments for each company but said there is not yet sufficient information to make an in-the-round decision about how performance has been hindered.
News
Opening up networks to competition could delay the construction of infrastructure required to deliver net zero emissions, industry figures have argued. Giving evidence to the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee as part of its inquiry into Ofgem and net zero, Cadent director of regulation and strategy Tony Ballance said competition for the delivery of network infrastructure should not be introduced on a blanket basis.   
News
All new and large non-domestic buildings may be required to connect to a heat network if they are within a zone earmarked for the communal heating systems, the government has suggested. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has also proposed a four-stage process for the designation of heat network zones, with local authorities taking a leading role.
News
An energy minister has warned that bad practice by “cowboy” heating installers could be “disastrous” for the roll out of efforts to tackle emissions from homes. At a fringe meeting at last week’s Conservative party conference, Lord Callanan said he receives complaints “every week” from members of the public about the quality of installations of heat pumps and other low-carbon heating systems.
News
Severn Trent led a bid in the Ofwat Breakthrough Challenge to rollout monitoring equipment to wastewater treatment plants to better understand the scale and distribution of greenhouse gases emitted through treatment processes. Despite not being successful, the company is charging ahead with its own monitoring including using drones to measure methane and find opportunities for optimisation
Analysis
Energy dominated the headlines across the national media this weekend, with the government under pressure to act amid continued volatility in wholesale gas prices, with warnings that more energy retailers could exit the market imminently. Meanwhile, ministers are said to be weeks away from announcing plans to move green levies from electricity to gas bills.
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