Can businesses in Canada avoid the damage of tornado season?
Tornado season has officially begun in Canada—and it doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon! Scientists are even predicting that an above-average amount of tornados could be hitting the country this summer.
In fact, a tornado recently touched down in Ontario. The damage was severe, as the natural disaster attacked trees, power lines and houses. As well, an even larger tornado tore through Manitoba and smashed fences and buildings for almost three hours. The same was seen in Calgary.
More and more tornados have been seen since June—and for good reason: it’s an El Nino year, which has apparently given tornado activity in Canada a pretty big boost.
Regarding the issue, John Allen, postdoctoral research scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y. said, “El Nino seems to produce the conditions that we would expect to foster more tornadoes in Canada, similar to what is seen in Florida in El Nino years.”
Therefore, to help protect businesses, storefronts and employees from meeting various types of damage due to these natural disasters, we’ve put together a list of tips to potentially help keep both people and buildings safe. Take a look.
In order to be properly prepared for upcoming tornadoes, it’s important to make a list. If you’re prepared with a list of variables you can control, then you’re more likely to avoid certain damages. Your list should include the following items:
- Prepare for and practice an emergency plan for customers and employees
- Purchase a weather radio and monitor the change in conditions
- Listen and be able to act on all warnings
- Keep exterior doors and windows closed
- Employees should find a basement or small interior room to wait out the storm
- Consider wind-resistant construction—it’s cost effective and can minimize damage
- Brace and strap the roof of the building
- Inspect and repair loose or damaged building components before the storm happens
RELATED TOPIC: Duke Energy safety after storms
It’s also a good idea to have some insurance coverage on your building or store. As mentioned, there are various types of damages that just can’t be avoided—having commercial insurance could help pay for these types of damages. Options for commercial coverage in Canada include SGI Canada, Square One Insurance, and Western Direct.
Of course, when it comes to natural disasters (in this case, tornadoes), the most important thing to do is protect yourself and employees. However, if you can also protect your store or business from damage and save a little bit of time, money and energy, then why not take the proper precautions to do so?
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.