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Centrica to sell 30% of generation on N2EX

July 3rd 2012

Centrica Plc., parent company of British Gas has announced it has started to sell at least 30% of its day-ahead electricity generation on the N2EX exchange. The N2EX platform which is owned by Nasdaq and Nordpool, has been used by the firm since it was launched in January 2010. But they have only started selling at least 30 per cent of power via the platform this week.
The increased sales have been sparked after industry competitors Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and E.ON announced their plans to auction off day-ahead electricity production on the open market. Britain’s big six energy suppliers – EDF, Centrica, SSE, EON, RWE and Scottish Power – were criticised by Ofgem for high rises in energy bills in 2011 as the regulator pushed for more competition in the industry, pledging to break the “stranglehold” of the country’s “big six”.

“This new initiative will bolster the N2EX exchange and strengthen the industry’s drive to increase liquidity and improve market transparency” Centrica said in a statement.

Fracking is safe with heavy regulation and best practices

July 2nd 2012

The risks of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas are low, as long as it is regulated. This seems to be the conclusion of a joint report released last week by The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering who say the technique is safe if firms follow best practice and rules are enforced.

There has been mixed opinions about fracking, after the gas extraction method triggered two earth tremors near Blackpool last year. According to experts, it should not cause earthquakes or contaminate water but the rules governing it will need to be tightened. Exploratory fracking is currently being proposed in at least seven sites across the UK.

Prof. Robert Mair from Cambridge University and the report’s chair said, “Our main conclusions are that the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing for shale can be safely managed provided there is best practice observed and provided it’s enforced through strong regulation”.

Consumer Council for Water tells water companies to show value for money

June 29th 2012

Further to the Consumer Council for Water’s latest tracking survey, the watchdog has said that Water companies must do more to satisfy their customers to ensure they are receiving value for money. CC Water reported that although nine out of ten customers were satisfied with the standard of service they received, a considerably lower proportion was satisfied with the value for money aspect.

Across England and Wales, 72% of bill payers that were involved in the tracking survey said they were happy with the value for money of their water service and 73% said the same in relation to sewerage; while satisfaction with general service levels came in at 92% and 89% respectively.

CCWater chief executive Tony Smith said: “Customers’ views reflect the continuing price increases and water companies’ lack of communication about what they are doing with the extra money they are getting from customers. CCWater will be pushing water companies, particularly the poor performers, to improve their communication with their customers and show an improved trend on customer satisfaction with value for money. We will also be pressing for water regulation to incentivise water companies to improve this vital measure of success for the industry.”

Northumbrian Water, Yorkshire Water and Portsmouth Water came in on top with percentage scores in the low 80’s. South West Water came in at last place, with just 35% of customers satisfied with value for their water bill and 39% for sewerage.

Veolia Water sold for £1.2bn in attempt to cut group debt

June 28th 2012

French Utility, Veolia Environment SA has today sold its three UK regulated water businesses for £1.2bn ($1.92bn; €1.5bn) in an attempt to cut its debts. Rift Acquisitions, a fund managed by Morgan Stanley and Prudential’s MG, will buy a 90% stake of Veolia Water’s central, southeast and east businesses.
Veolia Water serves more than 3.5 million people in southern England and has a combined annual turnover of 274 million pounds.

Veolia Environment will retain a 10% stake in Veolia Water along with its Veolia Water Outsourcing business which provides services to other UK water providers. The proceeds of the sale will go towards paying down the €15bn of net debt owed by the group’s French parent company.

CEO Antoine Ferret said he plans to reduce Veolia’s debt by 3 billion euros by the end of next year in an attempt make the company more profitable. Last month Ferret said, he wants to focus on “promising” countries and will pursue asset sales in the U.S. and the U.K.

“This first significant divestment shows that we are moving in the right direction regarding the implementation of our strategic plan,” “The transformation of Veolia is progressing at a good pace.” Ferret said in a statement.

Growing concerns as Treasury avoids questions on energy policy

June 27th 2012

The Treasury has been accused of interfering with the coalition’s green growth agenda, by MP’s who are investigating the impact of the Energy Bill. The news comes after the Chancellor froze a planned fuel duty rise yesterday.

There is now growing pressure on the Economic Secretary, Chloe Smith MP, as Treasury ministers refused to give evidence about their influence on low carbon subsidies. MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee had hoped Chloe Smith would appear at a hearing yesterday to answer critical questions regarding the levy-cap the Treasury has set for low-carbon subsidies. Smith did not attend, and said “it would be improper to comment on another department’s legislation”.

Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee who had previously written to Smith requesting her attendance, has now written demanding written answers to 18 questions about the impact that Treasury decisions have on energy investment in the UK by the end of June.

Electronic appliances on standby cost UK £1.3bn a year

June 26th 2012

Households across the UK could be wasting up to £1.3bn a year as a due to stand-by settings on household electrical devices that are left on when not in use. According to a study entitled Powering the Nation – household energy habits uncovered, carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Energy Saving Trust.

The study monitored the use of electricity in 250 homes, and found that the households were spending between £50 and £86 on electronic appliances in a “non-active” or standby state, equivalent to 9pc to 16pc of the average electricity bill.

Environment minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach said: “This survey shows we are using a lot more energy than previously thought.”

Research also showed that people were watching more television than originally thought. Most households have a TV on for more than six hours a day rather than the previous estimate of five hours on average. This could mean that the UK as a whole is watching 10 billion hours more TV a year than estimated, adding £205 million to electricity bills across the country.

Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: “Using energy more wisely in our homes will not only cut carbon but will also help save money on bills. But first we need to really understand how we use this energy in order to become more energy wise.”

Electricity transmission lines planned for Britain’s National Parks

June 25th 2012

Britain’s most picturesque scenery could soon be home to hundreds of miles of giant electricity pylon lines according to documents recently published online by the Government and National Grid. The documents show plans to place 160ft electricity pylons across Snowdonia, mid-Wales, the Lake District and other well-preserved parts of countryside.

The documents show planned pylon development and include many previously unpublicised schemes added to existing proposals. The new lines are required to transmit electricity from the growing number of wind farms which are mainly in remote parts of Britain.

National Grid and Statnett confirm plans for subsea interconnector by 2020

June 21st 2012

National Grid PLC (UK) and Statnett, Norway’s state-owned energy firm have today confirmed their plans to develop a 1,400MW subsea electricity interconnector between the U.K. and Norway which is set for completion in 2020.

“Together, the two cables will strengthen the North European electricity grid and the supply security in Norway. The cables will be used for profitable trading of power, meaning electricity will flow to Norway when prices in Germany and the U.K. are lower than here. In the same way, we will export when prices are high abroad.” Norway’s energy department said in a statement.

Source: Enzen Global

GDF SUEZ Plans Tidal Power Generation Projects

June 20th 2012

French utility and energy company GDF Suez SA, has announced it has started studies to develop two tidal power plants to harness France’s strongest tidal currents.

GDF Suez said today that it aims to initially test up to 12MW at Raz Blanchard, Normandy. Subject to approvals, they plan to install a pilot plant of three to six turbines from 2015. The long term aim is to have 100 turbines at the site, all or some of which may be supplied by Voith Hydro. They also plan a second site by 2016, at the Passage du Fromveur site, located off the North West coast near Brittany; this has France’s second strongest tidal current.

Veolia Water UK looks set for sale this summer

June 18th 2012

French utility, Veolia Environment is currently in talks with three consortia to sell their regulated UK water business; according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. Depending on regulatory clearance, the deal could be signed in July and closed by the end of the summer.

Veolia Water serves a population of more than 3.5 million across three different parts of the UK and is valued at £1 billion. The move is part of plans to shed €5 billion of assets, as part of an overhaul to address its lack of profitability and debt issues.