Apr 1, 2014

Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas to build major natural gas pipeline

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Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas this week are soliciting proposals to build and operate a second major wholesale natural gas pipeline into North Carolina to meet growing demand for the fuel in the Carolinas and possibly surrounding states.

Duke Energy's increasing reliance on natural gas to generate electricity, coupled with Piedmont's growing customer demand, warrant investment in a new pipeline that would bolster reliability and diversity of natural gas supplies, the two companies state in their solicitation.

Specifically, the two companies seek an initial natural gas pipeline capacity of as much as 900 million cubic feet per day, with a target in-service date of late 2018. The companies expect to select a proposal by late 2014. Currently, North Carolina is served primarily by a single major wholesale interstate natural gas pipeline that runs through the state.

In addition, the construction of numerous natural gas-fired power plants nationwide in the wake of coal-fired power plant closures – due to environmental regulations and low natural gas prices – has significantly increased demand for natural gas.

Duke Energy has opened five new, cleaner-burning natural gas-fired power plants in North Carolina since 2011 to replace older, less efficient coal-fired power plants. Piedmont pipelines supply natural gas to all five plants.

Duke Energy also has proposed a new natural gas-fired power plant in South Carolina.

A new pipeline would expand Duke Energy's and Piedmont's "access to competitive, secure, diverse and abundant supplies," and "enhance the reliability of future natural gas deliveries into the state," the solicitation says.

This past winter's extremely cold temperatures resulted in high natural gas demand throughout much of the nation, underscoring the need for additional natural gas pipeline capacity, utility industry observers have noted.

Duke Energy since 2005 has reduced company-wide carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent, sulfur dioxide emissions by 84 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 63 percent by building natural gas-fired power plants, closing coal-fired power plants and installing additional emission control equipment.

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Ofwat
Utilities
water
prices
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

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:   

  1. 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. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"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 VenturesWave 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.

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