Policy & regulation

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

Editor's picks

After a year-long investigation, the Environmental Audit Committee's report into river health in England has urged regulators to take a firmer position on pollution incidents, saying Ofwat should consider limiting bonuses to water company executives for failing to tackle the problem. The committee’s chair Philip Dunne spoke to Utility Week about the report, which also called for licence conditions to be revised to require year-on-year reductions in pollution towards a target of zero serious incidents by 2030.
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Shadow secretary for climate change and net zero Ed Miliband has called for “root-and-branch reform” of energy regulation, saying failures over the last decade have left the UK more exposed to high energy costs than other countries in Western Europe. Speaking during a House of Commons debate on Labour’s motion to cut VAT on household energy bills, which was subsequently defeated, Miliband also accused the government of being “paralysed” in the face of a cost-of-living crisis.
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Government legislation to establish a new financing mechanism for nuclear power has been approved by MPs despite Labour warnings that safeguards should be created to ensure it does not become a “milch cow” for consumers. The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to back the legislation, which allows the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model for financing infrastructure to be used to nuclear projects.
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Featured

Peter Simpson reflects on the year just passed and looks ahead to 2022. The water sector is facing unprecedented challenges that Simpson says will take new levels of cooperation to meet. He says it must reach out and work with other sectors if it hopes to make real improvements around rivers, pollution and climate adaptation.
Opinion
Given its perceived role in unlocking the true potential of the UK’s energy system as it transitions to net zero, the conversation around the Future System Operator no longer centres on if, but when and how. Utility Week gauged the views of smart grid and system operation leads across the energy sector on the roles and responsibilities of the new body and how a functional FSO can be achieved as quickly as possible.
Analysis
After distribution network operators (DNOs) published their final RIIO ED2 business plans last month, Grid Edge Policy director and former Ofgem partner, Maxine Frerk, tries (and struggles) to draw some comparisons. Given their various inconsistencies and sheer size – amounting to ten of thousands of pages when including the supporting documents - Frerk asks: who are they expecting to read them?
Analysis

Latest in Policy & regulation

A legal battle over a tax on uranium and plutonium that was put in place last year to fund Germany's transition away from nuclear power and fossil fuels to renewable energy is the latest twist in the country's nuclear saga, says David Stellfox
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Energy regulator Ofgem has warned that the government's Green Deal energy efficiency scheme, as drafted, could block competition in the market.
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Power distribution companies need to up their game in dealing with consumers during the next period of price controls, according to energy regulator Ofgem.
Generators connected to the distribution network have won a lengthy tussle with Ofgem for exemptions from new charging rules they viewed as unfair.
Climate change minister Greg Barker raised eyebrows last week when he announced a target of 22GW of new photovoltaics (PV) by 2020. As of 14 February there was a total PV installed capacity of 783MW, according to Ofgem's feed-in tariff (FIT) register.
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The balance between protecting the environment and customers' pockets is likely to be a key issue for the upcoming Parliamentary Water White Paper inquiry hearings.
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