Finance and investment

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Ofwat has dismissed claims that its PR19 final determinations were focused on short-term savings over long-term investment as a “false dichotomy” and told the Competition and Markets Authority that companies must be in better shape.
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A start-up incubator has been launched to harness the skills of furloughed workers in the energy sector for low-carbon projects. Spinning Reserve, which has been created by Rosa Stewart, the head of external affairs for SSE Energy – now part of Ovo Group, aims to tackle negative issues of unemployment and seize an opportunity to upskill fledgling net zero projects.
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Eon UK is combining its business retail arm with Npower Business Solutions as part of the merger between the two energy giants. The move will create one of the UK’s largest business energy retailers, with both brands having around 57,000 I and C customers combined.
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Good Energy founder Juliet Davenport explains why she continues to view furloughing staff as a “last resort” and insists “this can't just be about saving money for shareholders”. She tells Utility Week how the company is coping with the downturn in the business retail market, which now accounts for 50 per cent of its customer base, and its focus on supporting both the physical and mental wellbeing of its staff.
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Utility Week’s Investor Summit heard how climate change and legitimacy are reshaping investment models. We present some of the key points from the day and round-ups from panel sessions.
Analysis
Mark Sussex, head of international, illion Digital Tech Solutions, discusses how smaller suppliers can differentiate themselves through the way they handle customers experiencing payment difficulties. Sussex argues that harnessing technology to assess affordability is key.
Opinion

Latest in Finance and investment

A coalition of prominent companies, including Scottish Power and Severn Trent, have committed to buy 70,000 British-made electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030 at the latest, providing government and Ofgem commit to specific actions on transport decarbonisation.
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A ban on gas boilers is neither a “necessary or even desirable” policy and government should instead introduce a subsidy for heat pumps, an energy retailer has suggested. Clementine Cowton, Octopus Energy’s director of external affairs, was speaking following national media reports that the government was considering pushing back the ban on new gas boilers.
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The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has advised the government to avoid “picking winners” among greenhouse gas removal technologies and to rapidly introduce market frameworks to support various options. The NIC wants the government to commit to deploying five to ten megatonnes of engineered removals of carbon dioxide by 2030, rising to between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.
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Download Utility Week’s report to discover the factors driving industry pilots of open banking technology to improve debt and payment management in the post-pandemic world.
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Eon UK chief executive Michael Lewis has urged the government to bring forward the ban on gas boiler sales to 2030 as “the best way to give industry the signal to start investing today”. Conversely, he said rumours of the ban being extended beyond a previously mooted date of 2035 would “simply delay the benefits of the transition to net zero”.
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The government says separate auctions for low-carbon generation may need to be introduced to the Capacity Market to balance security of supply and the need to decarbonise. A call for evidence on changes to the mechanism also considers agreement lengths and how to incentive low-carbon, long-build-time technologies.
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Ovo Energy wants to be in the vanguard of delivering new technologies and services to enable net zero. However, the company’s chief financial officer Bill Castell insists that first the energy retail market must be stabilised, to give both investors and consumers confidence. As part of Utility Week’s Countdown to COP campaign, he speaks to James Wallin.
Interviews
Octopus Renewables has acquired the independent distribution network operator (IDNO) Eclipse, as part of its strategy to back a more diverse range of businesses involved in the energy transition.
News
Centrica has revealed it is “reconsidering” its plan to sell its 20 per cent stake in the UK’s nuclear fleet. The company made the announcement in its half year financial results. In 2018 the company said it had intended to divest of its interest in the UK’s operational nuclear fleet however it is now examining whether nuclear can play a role for the company in the future.
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Ecotricity has made a £45 million cash offer to buy the 75 per cent of shares it does not already own in Good Energy, despite already being rebuffed by its target’s board.
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A combination of Covid-19 and the recent industrial action from British Gas engineers cost Centrica an estimated £87 million, as well as a reduction in customers in the first half of this year. The process to update employee contracts as part of its major restructure announced last summer has been described as “challenging” by the British Gas owner. Elsewhere, the company updates on customer losses for its retail arm and services business.
News
The government has outlined plans to tackle a market distortion from the energy company obligation (ECO), with a view to eventually removing supplier thresholds. In a new consultation, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy set out how it intends to expand the ECO scheme so more small suppliers would be obligated.
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