The Department for Business and Trade has said it wants to stimulate competition within the water sector through streamlined regulation as well as delegating some of Ofwat's powers around the non-domestic market.
Environmental regulation in Wales came under fire from politicians at a select committee hearing where witnesses described a cultural aversion to enforcement at Natural Resources Wales. The organisation's CEO said prosecution indicated regulation had failed and did not benefit the environment.
The government is considering fundamental changes to the regulatory appeals process for water companies. This includes the possibility of moving away from a complete redetermination of company business plan submissions in favour of appealing specific aspects - to mirror the regime for energy.
Five water retailers have refunded thousands of customers who were overcharged. In total, the five retailers have refunded £380,000 to 3,500 customers after a CCW investigation uncovered billing errors.
Colum Goodchild, director of asset strategy at Aqua Consultants, argues water companies must do more with less and work closely with local communities and other stakeholders to manage assets effectively, tackle environmental issues, and rebuild faith in the sector.
Utility Week's latest round up of appointments across the industry includes an ex-National Grid director joining the Ofwat board; SGN's newest non-executive director and a change of leadership after Everflow's management buy-back.
Water regulator Ofwat has approved changes to the wholesaler, retailer code that will simplify processes for business customer disconnections and tariff alteration requests. As part of work undertaken by MOSL, multiple similar approaches are to be streamlined to make it consistent for customers and trading parties.
Majority stakeholder of water retailer Everflow has been bought out by the company's management as the company seeks to grow as a multi-utility provider. Perwyn, which invested in Everflow in 2018, will retain a small stake and a seat on the board. Everflow, led by Josh Gill, will continue to pursue opportunities in waste collection and telecoms as well as water services to small-medium business customers
Southern Water is making a fund available to businesses across its region to encourage innovative ways to cut water usage. The Business Partnership Fund, worth £150,000, will be open to water retailers as well as non-household customers as a grant to kickstart novel ways of saving water resources.
SES Water has said it will miss the water sector’s commitment to cut operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Its business plan for 2025-30, which said billpayers did not support fast-tracking such work, also outlines additional equity in the event of the company being sold. Read more details and a summary of other business plans from water only companies.
Severn Trent has told investors it is confident the "vast majority" of its spending plans for 2025-2030 will be approved, after asking for a doubling in total expenditure compared to the current price control. Meanwhile chief executive Liz Garfield promised growth in regulatory capital value “beyond anything people might have been expecting” for PR24.
Ofwat is looking to implement a cost recovery mechanism to protect customers and suppliers when a retailer unexpectedly exits the market. The regulator said that the current arrangements “are not sufficiently robust” and that there are “significant costs, risks and process that a retailer may face in the event of taking on the customers of a failed retailer”. In particular, Ofwat said that “there are risks that too few retailers would elect to become an interim retailer in the event that one or more other retailers exit the market in an unplanned manner”.
The water retail market is still “not functioning as effectively as it needs to”, according to Ofwat. The water regulator rules that market frictions including poor quality data and wholesaler underperformance are impeding the retail sector, in its annual ‘state of the market’ assessment.
Another £40 million is up for grabs for collaborative ideas that could solve some of the common problems that the water sector is facing. Ofwat highlighted the net zero transition as an area that could benefit from the innovation funding. It called for "even bolder initiatives" as the sector stares down problems of net zero, pollution leakage and climate change.
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