Policy

Editor's picks

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.
News
Meeting environmental targets and cutting the use of combined sewer overflows have been outlined as key priorities for Ofwat to incentivise in the next price review. Defra has instructed the regulator to make environmental planning and pollution reduction top objectives, in its draft strategic policy statement (SPS) for PR24 and beyond.
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Utility Week explores the wide range of new roles and responsibilities an independent energy system operator may be asked to take on. These include a possible statutory duty to advise government, Ofgem, code managers, councils and other bodies, as well as taking on some secretary of state functions with regard to the Capacity Market and playing an active part in the rollout of hydrogen and CCUS.
Analysis

Featured

The inaugural UK Utilities Risk Report, from Utility Week and Marsh, highlights the key issues keeping sector leaders awake at night. From cybersecurity to policy and regulatory blockers, extreme weather and price volatility, this report presents a snapshot of the key concerns for utilities.
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“Truly horrific” is how Scottish Power’s chief executive recently described the looming winter energy bill crisis. As such it’s time for a massive shift in policy and approach. Writing for Utility Week Keith Anderson says with the Queen’s Speech due in a few weeks’ time, the government must consider how to introduce a social tariff to protect those most in need.
Opinion
Following Ofgem’s minded-to decision to introduce a quarterly price cap, Utility Week reporter Adam John believes it is time to start looking to a future that is not fixated on price and switching. From a relative cap to social tariffs, there are several options on the table to be considered. Failure to act is likely to result in more consumer woe.
Opinion

Latest in Policy

The government has opened a £160 million fund to support the floating wind sector as MPs launched a wide-ranging inquiry into its plans to decarbonise the UK’s power supply sector. The scheme, which was announced by prime minister Boris Johnson last October, will aid investment in the deep-water port infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities needed to deliver the government’s target of 5GW of floating offshore wind generation by 2030.
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The UK could still be using as much as a quarter of the gas that it does today in 2050, a junior energy minister has said. Lord Callanan made his remark as the House of Lords approved new regulations allowing power stations retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to be eligible for Contracts for Difference-style arrangements.
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A snap review should be carried out into whether the lives of the UK’s operating nuclear power stations can be extended, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has urged. The review is one of the key recommendations in a new report on the future of the UK’s advanced gas-cooled reactor fleet published on Friday (19 May).
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A windfall tax on energy company profits is not “off the table”, Rishi Sunak has stated. The chancellor of the exchequer has come under pressure from Ed Miliband to adopt Labour’s proposed windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
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Locational electricity pricing could save £30 billion – or £1,000 per household – by 2035, according to a new study from Energy Systems Catapult and Octopus Energy. The report said the current market arrangements were designed for an energy system dominated by large, centralised generators and “no longer makes sense”, resulting in a “growing tension between the wholesale market and physical reality”.
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Consumers' choices must be limited to a degree if the UK is to achieve its net zero ambitions, a senior industry figure has argued. Speaking during a panel session on the decarbonisation at Utility Week Live on Tuesday (17 May), Vattenfall head of partnerships Noah Nkonge sought to qualify suggestions that consumers should have free choice over the type of heating they use, warning: “If everybody gets to choose every little thing then things like heat networks are really difficult to deliver.”
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Boris Johnson’s departure from 10 Downing Street would not derail the government’s net zero emissions drive because support for the policy is too deeply rooted amongst businesses and the UK’s international partners, a Conservative environmental campaigner has claimed. Jack Richardson, senior climate programmes manager at the Conservative Environment Network, said although there is “definitely” some risk of a new leader dropping support for net zero, this would mean going up against “all those companies that are now investing in transition plans”.
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The government has declared its support for further investment in sewerage systems in England and Wales in its response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s damning report on water quality in rivers. However, the committee's recommendations to address pollution from agriculture and homebuilding, which both play a significant role in preventing rivers from achieving good ecological status, were not accepted.
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Ofgem’s minded-to decision to introduce a quarterly price cap period from October has raised concerns that vulnerable customers could face large price hikes during the coldest months of the year. Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy at the charity National Energy Action (NEA), said the move “opens the door to significant price rises” over the coming winter.
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Ofgem is pressing ahead with proposals to shorten the price cap period from six months to three to reduce the time lag between changes in wholesale energy prices and their reflection in the cap. The regulator said its minded-to decision, which is subject to consultation, would allow suppliers to more accurately predict how much energy they need to purchase, reducing the risk of further failures.
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The government has announced it will start selecting the new wave of nuclear projects it will support next year, whilst opening bidding for its £120 million fund to kickstart the programme. The Future Nuclear Enabling Fund was launched by business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Thursday (12 May) on a visit to the Wylfa nuclear plant in Anglesey.
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The Department for Transport has announced plans to hold a £200 million programme of competitions to demonstrate and compare zero-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and gather evidence on the future requirements for refuelling and recharging infrastructure. The three-year programme will allow manufacturers, energy providers and fleet and infrastructure operators to demonstrate their technologies on UK roads and will start later this year with initial competitions for battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell HGVs.
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