Economics will drive Arctic development
By Dr. James Jay Carafano
The Arctic is an area of vast undeveloped wilderness. But that could be about to change as the eight nations that have territory in the region assess how they can overcome the challenges of inhospitable territory to enable them to tap into its massive resources of oil, gas, and minerals, according to Dr. James Jay Carafano, a leading expert in American national security and foreign policy at the Heritage Foundation, U.S.
Economic development, which looks like becoming a reality in the not too distant future, will almost certainly take precedence over the environmental lobby, he writes in World Review.
“In the past, those advocating more human activity in the Arctic and those advocating placing a priority on climate change and environmental protection could accommodate one another because development in the polar region was growing at a modest pace,” Carafano says.
“However, the scale and speed of economic activity in the Arctic could accelerate rapidly in the near term. Global consensus on a climate change agenda, on the other hand, is not gaining momentum.”
Advocates for polar activities often discuss the need to deal with climate change and attempts to minimize the impact of commercial activity on the fragile Arctic environment in the same sentence, he says. “But the reality is that the issues are at odds with one another.”
Large private sector capital will be required to build the infrastructure necessary to support the increased activity, he adds. Nations are scrambling for investors.
“The more favored model seems to be to encourage business-to-business partnerships under the umbrella of public-private cooperation, which could all give due deference to environmental and local concerns, such as involving indigenous peoples in development planning,” Carafano says.
Ultimately, competition will spur more development and infrastructure construction, fostering innovation and lowering costs. Read the full World Review report here.
About the Author: World Review author Dr James Jay Carafano is a leading expert in America's national security and foreign policy challenges, is the Washington-based Heritage Foundation's vice president for foreign and defense policy studies and director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.
© 2013 Geopolitical Information Service; http://www.worldreview.info
Photo credit: Elena Shchipkova / Shutterstock
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.