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

Gas network companies have warned the government that there is a "policy void" on the future for gas in domestic heating, as they prepare to commission a study looking at the costs and other implications of replacing gas with low-carbon electricity for domestic heating.
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Businesses know energy is expensive, but are reluctant to invest in efficiency measures. As cold weather starts to kick in for the first time this year, Richard Postance tells the government to educate and reassure.
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DNOs know they have to transform their networks into smart grids, but what exactly will this entail? Brendan Coyne sat in on senior managers discussing the issue at the EIC.
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Timelines in the water sector are so long that it is more important for policy to be right than to be hasty. The final appearance of the Water White Paper last week made my wait worthwhile because, after thorough consideration, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has adopted many of the pro-competition measures set out in my "gradualist" 2009 independent review of competition and innovation; some others are deferred for more detailed consideration. All are set out in a few unobtrusive pages of a wider document.
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