Company strategy

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As the nation enters the first phase of returning to work, two landmark projects - Hinkley Point C and Thames Tideway - have brought staff back to sites with guidance on how to operate under social distancing rules.
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The Covid-19 outbreak offers a unique opportunity for the sector to reappraise supply chain robustness, address the resilience of excessively leveraged balance sheets and prompt a discussion around the true value of essential workers, says Arenko’s James Mills
Opinion
We introduce a new series celebrating the tireless work carried out across the utilities sector to ensure the lights stay on and the water and gas keeps flowing during lockdown. As well as highlighting individuals and teams going above and beyond their day-to-day roles we will be examining how companies are adapting to new responsibilities and taking the initiative to extend support – both operational and financial - where it is needed most.
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Even before the coronavirus, understanding which of their customers would come under the broad umbrella of “vulnerable” was a key challenge for utilities companies. Here data specialist Mike Fox looks at ways companies can use their own data to search out difficult-to-identify vulnerabilities.
Opinion

Latest in Company strategy

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
Ofwat and CCW have said wastewater companies must review their responses to sewer flooding incidents after a report commissioned by the bodies found customers felt let down by slow action, poor communication and inadequate compensation. CCW chief executive Emma Clancy said the research had exposed “a cross-sector failure which is leaving people who experience sewer flooding in vulnerable circumstances.”
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National Grid has seen its profits surge to almost £4 billion following its acquisition of Western Power Distribution, the commissioning of two new interconnectors to France and Norway, and accelerated investment in the electricity transmission network. Utility Week spoke to chief financial officer Andy Agg about its financial results for the year to the end of March.
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Kraken Technologies, the provider of Octopus Energy’s proprietary end-to-end energy services platform, has announced it is expanding into other utility sectors such as water and broadband. As part of the expansion, the company has formed a new business, Kraken Utilities, which is hiring for another 50 positions to add to its existing team of 250 people.
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April saw a record low in the number of energy supplier switches started, the latest figures from Electralink have revealed. The company said with contracts ending each Spring April typically shows relatively high numbers of switches started as customers seek cheaper deals. Yet with a record increase to the price cap, Electralink said the appetite to change supplier has “flatlined”.
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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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EDF has made its first investment in the UK heat pump market, forming a strategic partnership with Clacton-based heat pump installer CB Heating. Under the partnership, EDF will offer end-to-end installation services to its three million customers from CB Heating’s 500-strong Heat Pump Installers Network. Its investment will additionally support the development of a new academy, which could potentially train up to 4,000 new installers per year starting from Autumn 2022.
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Property developer and investor Bruntwood has purchased a 42.4% stake in a consumer-owned wind project being developed by Ripple Energy. The Kirk Kill wind farm in Ayrshire in Scotland will consist of eight turbines with a combined capacity of 18.MW. Bruntwood will use the power from its share to supply its portfolio of commercial properties in and around Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cambridge.
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Octopus Energy Group has given financial backing to a project to import solar and wind power from Morocco via the world’s longest subsea interconnectors. Developer Xlinks is planning to build 7GW of solar farms, 3.5GW of wind farm and 5GW/20GWh of battery storage in a patch of desert in the south of Morocco, and import the power generated back to the UK through two 1.8GW interconnectors.
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Business utilities provider Yu Group has revealed it will launch its own metering services company after acquiring smart meter installer Magnum Utilities. Bolton-based Magnum, which also specialises in electric vehicle chargepoint installations, went into administration as a result of its clients entering the Supplier of Last Resort process.
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Ofgem has been accused of being reactive in its approach to assessing financial resilience in the energy retail sector, as well as slow to design new policies to address risk, in a new report. The 111-page document, written by finance consultancy Oxera, made a series of recommendations to strengthen Ofgem's regulatory regime following dozens of supplier failures over the last year.
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Water companies are still failing to “get the basics rights” when comes to customer service, according to Ofwat chief executive David Black. Speaking at the regulator’s annual non-executive director conference, Black warned that if things stay as they are, they will not be trusted to tackle other major issues like improving water quality in rivers and reducing consumption to prevent shortages.
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