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Examining how utilities are tackling the key issues of vulnerability and affordability

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After a bruising week for the energy retail market, in which wholesale power prices hit dramatic new heights, more than 500,000 customers saw their supplier exit the market and a major price comparison website was forced to suspend its energy services, the real fear is that we have yet to see the worst. Adam John looks at where the energy retail sector goes from here.
Analysis
One of the major price comparison services has halted energy comparisons after soaring wholesale costs resulted in suppliers restricted the number of tariffs available. Elsewhere other comparison services are offering a severely limited number of deals, with only a handful of suppliers listed on their sites.
News
A customer service expert has warned utilities they cannot get away with blaming poor performance on Covid or Brexit. Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, pointed to evidence that after an initial wave of high satisfaction across sectors, consumers were now becoming more demanding and less likely to be pacified when they encounter problems.
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The government has said it is ready to implement a “special administrator” in the event of a large energy supplier exiting the market. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy issued a statement last night following talks with senior energy executives over the impact of soaring wholesale power prices. Secretary of state, Kwasi Kwarteng, is to meet Ofgem this morning “to discuss the issues raised by the industry in more detail” before convening a roundtable “to plan a way forward”.
News
Anglian Water has several industry firsts under its belt including in green finance. As part of our Countdown to COP coverage Utility Week talks to Anglian's head of carbon neutrality about the company putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to carbon commitments. He also discusses trials around process emissions and how better data can help crack the problem
Analysis
Ofgem has confirmed two more energy companies are to exit the market, leaving more than half a million customers for suppliers of last resort to pick up. People's Energy, a social enterprise formed in 2017, supplied 350,000 consumers, while Utility Point had 220,000 billpayers. An Ofgem executive told Utility Week the question of how to alleviate the intense pressures on the retail sector was now "a key point of discussion". 
News
Business energy supplier Haven Power is to be rebranded as Drax as the group looks to more closely align its supply business with its generation arm.  Haven was acquired by Drax Group in 2009 and supplies more than 20,000 large industrial and commercial customers with more than 12TWh of renewable electricity annually – the equivalent yearly power use of more than 3 million homes.
News
As wholesale power prices continue to soar to new record levels, one academic has predicted even large suppliers will be under extreme pressure. Average prices in the day-ahead market for Tuesday (14 September) hit £461/MWh on the EPEX market and £380/MWh on Nordpool. Jeff Hardy, a senior research fellow at Imperial College London, warned “if you haven’t got anything that de-risks your exposure to wholesale prices as a supplier, then I think you are going to be in deep trouble”.
News
With COP26 only a few months away, excitement is building across the utilities industry. However, it is clear that the sector sees the UN climate conference as the beginning of a journey, not the end. Michelle Scarsbrook of Sopra Steria looks at where companies may turn next to further their net zero ambitions.
Opinion
Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted that the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme was “too ambitious” and has pledged that the government will consult more fully on any replacement scheme.
News
Rising pressures in the energy retail market such as soaring wholesale costs have meant that liquidity has become a "primary concern" for many businesses in the sector, an industry expert has warned. Andrew Stone, managing director at Interpath Advisory and joint administrator for recently failed supplier Hub Energy, spoke to Utility Week prior to Ofgem's announcement that this year will once again see a shortfall in renewables obligation certificates (ROCs).
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