Regulation

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Electricity North West has proposed spending almost £2 billion over five years as part of the first draft of its business plan for the RIIO ED2 price controls beginning in April 2023. The electricity distribution network said the plan is built on feedback from a two-year consultation involving more than 18,000 customers and stakeholders.
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National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has agreed to make a £1.5 million redress payment after an investigation by Ofgem found it had breached its licence conditions by failing to provide accurate and unbiased demand forecasts. The regulator said it does not believe the ESO deliberately set out to breach its licence conditions but “did not put in place adequate senior oversight and compliance controls to identify and mitigate this behaviour.”
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Ofwat’s freshly departed chief executive Rachel Fletcher talks to Utility Week about her highs and lows in the water sector - from price reviews, social contracts, CMA appeals and how the sector rebounded from what she described as its darkest point.
Interviews

Featured

The past month has seen announcements on the three sets of appeals that should be on a Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)-watcher’s radar – the granting of permission on the RIIO2 appeals, the final decision on PR19 in water and the decision on the rather obscure SSE code modification appeal. Maxine Frerk picks through the pertinent points and discusses the next steps.
Analysis
Western Power Distribution chief executive Phil Swift explains how the company has responded to calls to be radical and ambitious in the second draft of its business plan for the RIIO ED2 price controls beginning in 2023.
Opinion
Ofgem’s proposal to make energy suppliers repay surplus credit balances has received mixed reactions. Is the regulator cracking down on unsustainable business models or choosing short-term wins over a permanent fix for a broken market? Adam John asks what this latest crackdown says about the nature of regulation in energy retail.
Analysis

Latest in Regulation

Several large energy suppliers have called on the government to shift policy costs from electricity bills and introduce a carbon tax to deliver its green heating ambitions. Ovo, Eon, EDF and Scottish Power commissioned a report by consultancy Public First which looks into options for incentivising heat decarbonisation, claiming the current framework actively encourages the use of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, Energy Systems Catapult has backed the creation of an economy-wide ‘carbon regulator’.
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Trade body Energy UK and regulator Ofgem will become the first organisations in the sector to partner with a BBC project to improve gender diversity in the workplace. Originating in the broadcaster’s London newsroom ‘50:50 The Equality Project’ is the BBC’s commitment to improve gender representation in all content and communications.
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Ofgem has given final approval to a modification of the Uniform Network Code that will reinstate the short-haul discount that was previously removed as part of an overhaul gas transmission charges. UNC728B will provide a discount of between 10 per cent and 90 per cent on gas transmission charges for users connected within 28 kilometres of an entry point to discourage them from constructing their own pipelines to bypass the network.
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An environmental NGO has called for government to end its obsession with lower bills and allow the water sector to properly invest in infrastructure. The Salmon and Trout Conservation group asked government to remove obstructions that prevent the Environment Agency from monitoring polluters
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Ofgem’s latest annual survey measuring consumer attitudes has revealed a significant increase in the number of customers who perceive the chance of their new supplier going bust as a main risk of switching. It is now ranked fourth in the list of perceived risks of changing supplier. Adam John delves into the survey results.
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A former Environment Agency water quality expert has lambasted the body’s monitoring of river and sewer overflows. Peter Lloyd told the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that the regulator lacked the expertise to understand and interpret data gathered from wastewater treatment works.
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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has pushed back the deadline for its decision on the appeals by transmission and gas distribution networks against their final determinations for the RIIO2 price controls. The deadline for redeterminations is now set for 30 October 2021.
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Eon has paid out more than £680,000 after an error led to 1.6 million customers having their direct debits taken from their accounts earlier than planned. A majority of the payments affected were due to be taken in January this year, but the large supplier erroneously took payments on 24 December 2020.
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