Policy

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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.
News
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

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

British Gas agreed to pay £160,000 into the industry’s voluntary redress fund after more than 42,000 of its prepayment customers were affected by an IT issue that meant some failed to receive their Warm Home Discount (WHD), whilst others received it twice over. Ofgem’s annual report into the support scheme has revealed British Gas was the only non-compliant supplier during 2020/21, although there were also minor contraventions by Bulb, Octopus Energy, Utility Warehouse and Symbio Energy.
News
Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said networks’ response to storm must improve, describing power cuts of longer than three days as “unacceptable.” Appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee to answer questions about November’s Storm Arwen, which left some households without power for more than a week, the minister also rejected a suggestion that networks’ resilience to such events should have been stress tested by Ofgem.
News
The government is under pressure to find ways to mitigate the pain for consumers of the next energy price cap rise. David Blackman looks at the options on the table and gauges expert reaction on which are likely to become a reality.
Analysis
Analysts at Investec have lowered their forecast for the price cap for the next period beginning in April by almost £100 but said some form intervention is still needed to help those struggling with bills. The investment firm said wholesale gas and electricity prices have eased since it predicted last month that the price cap would rise to £2,000 for the summer period.
News
Talks between the government and industry over the ongoing energy crisis are not moving fast enough, the bosses of two suppliers have told Utility Week, with Ecotricity chief executive Dale Vince accusing ministers of being “in denial” over the extent of the issue. Vince said they are “hoping presumably that the problem will ease or go away but it isn’t going to.”
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Britain’s gas networks have released a new delivery plan setting out how they intend to make the grid ready to begin injecting natural gas blended with 20% hydrogen in 2023. The document published by the Energy Networks Association includes a timeline for necessary changes by government and regulatory bodies across five “market pillars”: legislation, regulation, codes, licences and safety.
News
The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) has expressed “serious concern” about reports that prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak have discussed moves to cut, postpone or even end the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme entirely. The trade body warned that curbing the scheme, which is due to deliver around £1 billion of investment per annum in energy efficiency and heating improvements in its fourth phase from April onwards, will derail the UK’s net zero progress.
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The anticipated £700 increase to the default tariff cap is set to put energy bills as a proportion of benefit levels at a generational high, new research by Citizens Advice has revealed. To mitigate the impact of soaring costs, the charity recently proposed a package of support which it urged the government to bring forward to help consumers pay their bills.
News
The government’s fuel poverty advisors have called for the poorest customers to be offered relief from the costs of supplier failures. David Blakemore, chair of the Committee on Fuel Poverty, said it would be "just wrong" to require low-income households to pay the price for regulatory mistakes.
News
A new poll, showing that more than eight in ten voters in Red Wall constituencies back temporarily scrapping VAT on energy. The survey of 1600 voters in 18 constituencies across the north of England found that 83% backed scrapping VAT on energy bills, which Labour has proposed and was pushing afresh in a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday, with just 6% opposed.
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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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Government policy is limiting work undertaken by community energy groups, according to the trade body representing them. Community Energy England has accused the government of ignoring and abandoning the organisations, of which there are more than 400 across the country.
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