coronavirus

The latest on how utilities have reacted to the pandemic and how companies are adapting to a new normal post-lockdown

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Ofgem’s chief executive Jonathan Brearley has set out his expectation that the energy sector will start to return to business as usual from next month. The regulator has written to suppliers, networks and the electricity system operator informing them that normal regulatory rules will apply from 1 July. Brearley said that while Covid-19 guidance must still be adhered to, now was the time for a “steady recovery” to begin.
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Electricity switching in Great Britain took a further dip last month as the coronavirus pandemic continued to affect consumer behaviour. The figures from ElectraLink’s Energy Market Data Hub show switches between energy suppliers in May decreased both year-on-year and month-on-month.
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To mark Global Wind Day, Orsted’s head of region for the UK, Duncan Clark, writes for Utility Week about how the post-pandemic economic recovery offers an opportunity for the offshore wind sector to refocus and potentially accelerate progress towards a more sustainable, low-carbon future.
Opinion
Many energy efficiency upgrades can already be carried out safely within Covid-19 guidelines, according to a new report from the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, which says home insulation projects could create 42,500 full time jobs over the next two years. The report was issued on the same day as the OECD warned the UK will suffer a bigger economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic than any other advanced nation.
News
Ofgem’s chief executive returns to Utility Week’s #AskUsAnything show to answer questions from readers, joined by interim executive director of systems and networks, Cathryn Scott and director, future retail, Philippa Pickford. Listen back to the on-demand recording here.
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Latest in coronavirus

Switching saw a substantial decrease last month compared to September 2019, the latest figures from Energy UK show. In addition, Electralink has released its figures for the sector which also show a decrease in the numbers switching. Despite this, Electralink says seasonal trends are continuing.
News
Energy customers struggling to pay their bills will be given more support via new license requirements, the industry regulator has announced. As part of the new rules, suppliers will be required to offer emergency credit to customers struggling to top up their prepayment meter, many of whom are likely to be in vulnerable circumstances.
News
Citizens Advice is pushing for the creation of an ‘essential services taskforce’ to simplify and improve the support received by vulnerable customers. In its ‘Getting support to those who need it’ report the consumer charity outlines a number of challenges faced by vulnerable customers, namely the complicated process of supplying multiple service providers with their relevant data.
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National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) has predicted a tightening of capacity margins this winter due to plant closures and outages, with the gap between supply and demand expected to fall to 4.8GW during an average cold spell.
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Ofgem has revealed the final amount of charges that have been deferred by network companies over a three-month period in response to Covid-19. In June three schemes were announced which allowed networks to put off up to £350 million worth of charges relating to gas transportation, electricity distribution and electricity transmission as a last resort. The schemes have now closed.
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Challenges thrown up by the pandemic should “supercharge” the focus of the smart meter rollout towards prepayment meter (PPM) customers, the chief executive of National Energy Action has said. Adam Scorer told Utility Week smart meters are the precondition for addressing one of the most “egregious market failures in energy”.
News
SSE is to remove qualification entry requirements for apprentices as part of a wider push to improve social mobility. Utility Week speaks to the company’s HR director John Stewart and former minister Justine Greening, who chairs the social mobility pledge, about the sector’s role in creating new green jobs and supporting the levelling up agenda.
News
Pure Planet has announced a price increase due to the rise in wholesale costs as countries around the world emerge from the first phase of the coronavirus lockdown. Pure Planet co-founder Chris Alliot said in addition to the rise in wholesale prices, non-commodity costs, which make up a large part of energy bills, have also been going up.
News
With many job functions in the utilities sector impossible to carry out remotely, is there a danger of a divide between this group and those enjoying the flexibility of remote working? Employment law specialist Alison Weatherhead discuses.
Analysis
Code changes in the water retail market previously took months to implement but during lockdown were rushed through in days. The extraordinary circumstances meant urgent changes were required to protect customers - all of which will now need to be gradually unpicked. In the second part of our focus on the water retail market, Utility Week speaks to MOSL’s chief executive Sarah McMath about reacting to Covid, increasing collaboration and tackling water efficiency.
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