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Water UK Appoints its First Independent Chair

24 Sep 2013

Water UK has appointed former Whitehall Permanent Secretary Sir David Rowlands as its first independent chair.

Sir David takes over from Peter Simpson, Managing Director of Anglian Water, who announced in April that he would be stepping down to focus more fully on the forthcoming price review.

Commenting on Sir David’s appointment, Peter Simpson said:
“This is a hugely significant moment for Water UK and the industry. In attracting someone of Sir David’s calibre and senior experience in both Whitehall and industry, we are redefining our leadership position. With our focus increasingly on driving standards of customer service, investing in essential infrastructure and helping to shape industry and regulatory reform, David will bring a fresh and challenging perspective to our work. I look forward to supporting David in every way I can, and look forward to remaining a member of Water UK’s Board.

“At the request of Water Minister Richard Benyon, I will continue to serve on the Government’s High Level Group on market reform, and take the opportunity to renew my commitment to making a success of the introduction of retail competition.

“Looking back over the past two years, I have been particularly proud of the way the industry has collaborated and stepped up to the challenge of managing the severe drought, and in the way we worked with Ofwat to reframe successfully the licence arrangements that will allow a smooth transition to PR14, the next regulatory period.

“I would like to thank Water UK’s Board and Council members for their commitment and support, and thank Pamela and the Water UK executive team for their help and support throughout my time as chairman.”

Commenting on his new role, Sir David said:
“I am delighted to be stepping into this role at such an important time for the water industry. The day-to-day priority of providing world-leading water quality and wastewater services and the highest quality customer service is underpinned by the industry’s value to the growing UK economy. We help attract multi-billion pounds of investment, create and secure jobs, and support business growth, house-building and tourism.

“Peter hands over a Water UK in extremely good shape, with strong collaboration across the industry as well as with government and regulators. I inherit a strong and highly effective executive team led by Pamela Taylor, and I look forward to getting to grips with all the key issues, and to ensuring that Water UK is an influential and leading voice in all the debates about the future of the industry and the central role it has in the future of the UK economy.”

Story courtesy of Water UK


First Energy from Keadby Wind Farm

18 Sept 2013

The first turbines at SSE’s Keadby onshore wind farm have been energised and exported electricity to the National Grid for the first time.

The 34-turbine wind farm, situated adjacent to SSE’s Keadby Power Station in north Lincolnshire, is due for completion in summer 2014. Once fully commissioned, the 68MW development will be the largest onshore wind farm in England and will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of over 57,000 homes.

Keadby Wind Farm Project Manager, David Sutton, said: “Once the turbines are installed, they undergo rigorous testing and commissioning before they can be declared operational. This is an exciting point in the construction process and it’s great to see the first turbines generating electricity.”

Article appears courtesy of SSE


Thames Water Proposes Significant Increase in Bills

15 Aug 2013

Thames Water has asked Ofwat to consider increasing the limits on the prices it can charge its customers.

In 2009 Ofwat set price limits on prices for the period 2010 – 15. Thames said that it has experienced changes to certain specific costs that were not anticipated by Ofwat, when price limits were set.

The regulator’s 2009 decision means Thames already has an allowance to increase its charges by 1.4% above inflation in 2014/15. Thames has indicated that this new application would add around a further 8% – around £29 – to the average household bill. The current average Thames household bill is around £354.

Regina Finn, Ofwat Chief Executive said: “We know that household incomes are becoming ever more stretched – nobody wants to see any unnecessary increase in bills. We have made it clear to companies that we expect them to talk to their customers, listen to them and take account of their customers’ views.
“We will challenge these proposals and question the company strongly on their reasons. Proposed increases will only be allowed if they are fully justified.”

Thames say increases in its costs are because of:

  • increases in bad debt costs above what was allowed in 2009 price limits, specifically additional bad debt due to the economic downturn;
  • the impact of the transfer of private sewers;
  • Thames tideway land purchase costs above what was allowed in 2009 price limits; and
  • increases in Environment Agency charges above what was allowed in 2009 price limits.

Ofwat expects to make a final decision by November 2013. Any revisions to price limits would not apply to customers’ bills before April 2014

Source: Ofwat

Lincs Offshore Wind Farm Officially Opened by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

02 Aug 2013

Centrica Energy’s Lincs offshore wind farm was officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on 1 August 2013.

The last of the wind farm’s 75 wind turbines was connected to the National Grid on Wednesday 24 July, bringing the 270MW project up to full strength for the first time. Lincs is now capable of producing enough clean renewable energy for over 200,000 homes – equivalent to around two thirds of the homes in Lincolnshire.

Lincs is a joint venture between leading UK energy company Centrica Energy, offshore wind market leader DONG Energy and Siemens Project Ventures.

Speaking at Centrica Energy’s operations and maintenance base in Grimsby, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m absolutely delighted to open the Lincs wind farm – a major contribution to ensuring the UK can continue to build on our competitive edge in renewable energy, as well as the UK economy and with the potential to power thousands of homes with clean energy and boost the local economy by bringing jobs to the region.

“The race is now on to lead the world in clean, green energy and Yorkshire and the Humber has a clear natural advantage with enviable wind resources and a world-beating research base – I am absolutely committed that we strengthen our position which is why our offshore wind industrial strategy aims to grow UK supply chain manufacturing so that more of the work and jobs can be done here.”

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, was also present at the event.

Construction of the wind farm started in 2010 with first power achieved in August 2012 and the last of the Siemens 3.6MW turbines lifted into place on Sunday 31 March this year. Over 350 people have been involved in its construction.

Centrica Energy’s Managing Director Mark Hanafin said: “Today is a very important day for Centrica and for our joint venture partners, marking the culmination of ten years’ hard work, determination, and perseverance by the men and women who’ve made Lincs happen.

“The support we’ve had from the people of Grimsby has been phenomenal. My hope is that the offshore wind industry will continue to bring important jobs to this important town, and that projects like this will give confidence to companies that there is a thriving renewables industry in the UK in which to invest.”

The Lincs wind farm is located 8 kilometres (5 miles) off the coast of Skegness and has been built out of Esbjerg in Denmark with commissioning managed from the Centrica base in Grimsby and Sutton Bridge near King’s Lynn.

The base includes the Siemens service team and will function as a shared resource for the Lincs, Lynn and Inner Dowsing wind farms. Siemens also provides grid connections to the Lincs wind farm.

Combined, the three wind farms are capable of producing enough power for over 330,000 homes.

L – R: Lincs wind farm maintenance engineer Roy Ford, apprentice Georgia Grace, Centrica Energy Managing Director Mark Hanafin, Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Ed Davey, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Lincs Project Director Patrick Harnett, Managing Director WindCat Neil Clarkson, apprentice Matty Legg

Story & Photo Courtesy & Copyright of Centrica

Centrica to Expand US Operations via £500M Acquisition

30 Jul 2013

Centrica plc’s North American subsidiary, Direct Energy Business, LLC, has agreed to acquire the New Jersey-based Energy Marketing business of Hess Corporation, for $731 million (£478 million) in cash plus net working capital, estimated at approximately $300 million (£196 million).

The Energy Marketing business is one of the largest B2B energy suppliers in the Eastern US, operating in 18 states.  The acquisition builds on Direct Energy’s existing capabilities and further integrates these activities along the gas value chain, linking gas supply from producers and other market participants through secured transport and storage capacity to the gas and power customer base.
In 2012, the Energy Marketing business supplied 378 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas and 28 terawatt hours (TWh) of power to over 23,000 customers.  When combined with Direct Energy’s existing business, which in 2012 supplied 77bcf of gas and 51TWh of power, the acquisition will make Direct Energy the largest business gas supplier on the East Coast of the US and the second largest business power supplier in the competitive US retail markets.

Centrica’s CEO Sam Laidlaw said: “This transaction will transform our B2B operations in North America, giving us leading positions in business gas and power supply and creating a unique dual fuel business in the US”, referring to the dual fuel products of Hess corporation that aim to give flexibility between the use of fuel oil and natural gas in order to diversify each client’s energy portfolio.

Centrica expects to increase its downstream business exposure in US and create an integrated gas supply chain, which will double their profitability in the specific region over the next five years.


Npower Sells Sites Once Earmarked for Nuclear Development

26 Jul 2013

RWE Npower has sold two sites in Cumbria which it at previously promoted for a nuclear power station.

The governments Energy National Policy statement published in 2011 did not include the two sites and instead, named two others as their preferred option. Npower did not challenge the decision and therefore decided to sell the Kirksanton and Braystones sites near Millom to the existing tenants.

Npower thanked the local community for their engagement over the last few years.

New £250m Northumberland Biomass Station Approved by Government

25 Jul 2013

Energy firm, RES is to build a new wood based biomass station at Blythe Harbour in Northumberland. The new station will generation enough low carbon electricity to generate all the homes in Northumberland – approximately 170,000 households.

Project Manager Chris Lawson said “The plant would play an important part in the strong and growing renewable energy industry in south east Northumberland. It is also a welcome confirmation of the government’s support for sustainable, low carbon energy projects which will make a significant contribution towards meeting the UK’s legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets.”

A spokesman at the Department of Energy and Climate Change said that Sustainably sourced biomass has an important role to play as part of a balanced energy mix, enhancing energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Construction of Blythe Harbour will have the capacity to generate 750GWh of renewable energy. It will take around two and a half years and is due to commence in 2014.

Ofwat Appoints New Chief Executive

24 Jul 2013

After reviewing the Board committee structure, water services regulator Ofwat has appointed a new Chief Executive and former employee, Cathryn Ross.

Cathryn is currently Executive Director of Markets and Economics at the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and  has a strong economic and regulatory background. She has held senior positions at the Competition Commission and Board level positions at the Office of Rail Regulation. In addition, she previously worked for Ofwat as Director of Markets and Economics between 2008 and 2011.

Jonson Cox, Chairman of Ofwat said: “We are delighted to welcome Cathryn to Ofwat to lead our executive. I look forward to working with her and believe that she will bring a strong team focus to Ofwat. Cathryn’s first priorities will include refocusing the future direction and management process of Ofwat. This is a critical time for Ofwat as we undertake the Periodic Review 2014 and Cathryn’s arrival as CEO will be welcome and timely.”

Cathryn Ross said: “I am very pleased to be returning to Ofwat at this key time. I am looking forward to working with Ofwat’s board, staff and stakeholders to ensure the success of the current periodic review and the development of a new model for water regulation.”

Ofwat and ORR are currently working together to ensure a smooth transition between current Chief Executive Regina Finn. Cathryn will be inducted as soon as possible and officially start the new position in October 2013 prior to water companies submitting their 2015-20 business plans for the 2014 periodic review. Cathryn’s role will also cover Accounting Officer.

Scottish Water Completes Borders Pipe Project

24 Jul 2013

Scottish Water has completed a £1.5m project to install five miles of new water mains in the Scottish Borders. Villages are now benefiting from high quality water through recent investments in the area.

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “Our vision of Scotland as a hydro nation will play a key part in our plans to develop a low carbon economy, boost growth and create jobs. This major infrastructure investment by Scottish Water in the Borders is good news for domestic and business customers in the area.”

Other investments in the area include a five-mile gravity main running from Selkirk to Yarrowford, a new gravity main from the Roberton water treatment works and a new pumping station.

Scottish Water’s Regional Community Manager Bill Elliot said: “The creation of new pipes and mains will ensure more of our customers in the Borders have access to high-quality drinking water, which has been treated to the highest standard in refurbished treatment works. Scottish Water continually invests in enhancing Scotland’s water infrastructure and completion of this latest project is a real boost for the Scottish Borders.” Villages such as Heriot and Bonchester are now receiving the very best high quality water from Scottish Waters treatments works based in Rosebery and Roberton. Customers will also benefit from better water security and lower energy consumption.

Heat Wave Causes Increased Demand in Yorkshire Water

22 Jul 2013

As temperatures soar across the UK, the demand for water in Yorkshire has risen by 100 million litres in the last week alone.

A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said: “With the recent hot weather there has been a more intense operation as demand has increased”.

Despite the rise in water usage, levels in reservoirs are 73% full, but Yorkshire Water is still urging people to use their water more wisely, such as turning the tap off when brushing teeth or using a sprinkler instead of a hosepipe; these actions can save thousands of litres.

Since the 1995 drought, Yorkshire Water has spent £300m on underground pipes to move water around as demand fluctuated. Since the heat wave, daily demand is running at 1.4 billion compared to normal levels of 1.3 billion and is set to continue for at least another week.