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.
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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.
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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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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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Ofwat has confirmed its decision to temporarily increase the maximum prices business retailers are permitted to charge as a result of increased levels of bad debt. Under the regulator's plans, where bad costs across the market exceed 2 per cent of revenue, retailers will bear 25 per cent of the costs, with the rest passed on to customers.
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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.
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Ofgem has revealed when it expects to implement the "true-up" to reflect the final costs of Covid-related bad debt in the default tariff cap. The energy regulator introduced an adjustment to the default cap earlier this year to account for an initial estimate of additional bad debt as a result of the pandemic.
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Ofwat is inviting water companies, their customers and consumer groups to share their experiences of service during the pandemic to better understand how support could be improved for those in financial difficulty, struggling with emotional wellbeing or without online access.
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Uswitch has claimed that despite the pandemic, the average debt owed to energy suppliers fell by 10 per cent over winter compared to last year. Based on results to its survey, Uswitch believes that in total 4.2 million households owe £529 million after winter. On average each household owes £126, which according to Uswitch.com is £15 less than last year.
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Smart electricity meter installations have rebounded in Great Britain following the success of the Covid vaccination programme, according to the latest figures from Electralink.
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Ofgem has announced plans to postpone the scheduled update of typical domestic consumption values (TDCVs) for gas and electricity consumers to assess the impact of the pandemic. Since 2013 Ofgem said domestic consumption has been on a “consistent decreasing trend”. However, due to millions of people being forced to work at home, early indications suggest there has been an increase since the first national lockdown in March 2020.
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Yu Group chief executive Bobby Kalar has said he is not worried at the prospect of reduced energy consumption from business consumers, adding that the company is focusing on growth to mitigate this. Kalar was speaking to Utility Week following the publication of his company’s financial results which revealed the impact Covid has had on the business.
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EDF has trialed a new self-service app to support the testing of its workforce for Covid-19, ensuring critical work can continue at its nuclear sites during outages. The company says the testing has enabled it to continue with its statutory outage programme without interruption and without any disruption to service.
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