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.
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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

Utility Week is poised to launch a new flagship event that will take a fresh approach to debating the competing objectives of affordability, sustainability and resilience. Hear from the leaders of Eon, Ofwat, UK Power Networks, and Yorkshire Water as well as some new voices joining the debate.
Market insight
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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A major new report proposes key reforms to enable the energy retail market to deliver for customers and net zero. It examines where action can be taken now on easing affordability pressures, evolving regulation and wholesale markets and ensuring a healthy, competitive energy retail market.
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Latest in Policy

Several MPs have called for bonuses to water company executives to be banned until sewage discharges are stopped or reduced as part of a House of Commons debate on the government’s Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat. There were also calls for fines on water companies to be directed towards repairing the damage caused by the pollution incidents for which they were imposed.
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Parliament should take a "more active role" in the oversight of utility regulators, the Global Infrastructure Investor Association has urged in a new report. It said the UK’s post-privatisation regulatory regime has been "highly successful" in achieving its objectives over many years but more recently has been found "wanting".
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Ofgem and the Energy Emergencies Executive Committee have published the final reports from their complementary reviews of networks’ responses to Storm Arwen. The reports contain dozens of actions to take forward, including the development of a new physical resilience standard, the stress testing of networks’ websites and call centres, and reforms to compensation arrangements.
News
Extending the government’s windfall tax to electricity generators risks pushing more suppliers into collapse, Energy UK has warned. In a new paper, the trade body said it would also "jeopardise" the accomplishment of the government's 2050 net zero emissions target, lowering the "pace and scale" of investment in the low-carbon infrastructure needed to reduce the country's exposure to "expensive and volatile" international gas prices.
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The UK should not significantly increase imports of liquid natural gas (LNG), despite the threat of a reduction in piped Russian supplies to Europe, Greg Hands has argued. The energy minister said although re-exporting the gas to mainland Europe through interconnectors could help to bolster energy security on the continent over the short term, a longer-term reliance on LNG in the UK itself would raise costs and increase pollution.
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The CBI has urged the government to prioritise passing the legislation for the delayed fourth and latest phase of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme before Parliament breaks for its summer recess. The industry funded ECO4 scheme, which will provide around £1 billion worth of energy efficiency and heat upgrades for fuel poor households, was originally due to run from April this year until 2026.
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The government should not go back to the drawing board with its mooted electricity market review, SSE has argued, whilst warning that introducing locational wholesale pricing will "significantly increase uncertainty" for investors in large-scale energy projects. In an updated response to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee's ongoing inquiry into energy supply and investment, the company raised concerns about the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements, which was announced in the government’s recently published energy security strategy.
News
The Treasury is looking at rolling out Irish-style "one stop shops" for energy efficiency to boost flagging home upgrade efforts, and will unveil the extension of its windfall tax on energy profits to electricity generators within weeks, Rishi Sunak has said. The chancellor of the exchequer, whose department has often been portrayed as a block on energy efficiency because of concerns about the costs of such programmes, said relatively cheap measures could deliver "significant returns".
News
The Crown Estate has committed a further £25 million to its programme to harness data to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind generation. The Offshore Wind Evidence and Change Programme aims to bring together key stakeholders to gather and share evidence that can facilitate the growth of the offshore wind sector in a way that protects and enhances the environment.
News
In the latest round-up of the weekend papers, generators express concerns over the government’s plans to levy a windfall tax on energy companies, ministers are reported to be considering financial aid for steelmakers struggling with rising energy prices and Octopus Energy partners with a house builder to offer energy self-sufficient homes with no annual bills.
News
The scale of the government's £15 billion cost of living support package took the energy sector by surprise and has been warmly welcomed as a meaningful intervention to help billpayers this winter. But, as experts tell David Blackman, policymakers now face the challenge of finding more sustainable, long-term solutions to the cost of living crisis.
Analysis
The potential revenue government has surrendered by offering higher rates of relief to oil and gas companies could have been used to insulate two million homes instead, according to a new analysis of the Treasury's energy profits levy by thinktank E3G. Meanwhile, a separate study has estimated the savings of a ten-year programme of home retrofits at up to £140 billion by 2035 if gas prices remain at their current high levels.
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