Egypt and Japan agree £71.6m Cairo electricity deal
Japan’s ambassador to Egypt, Noke Masaki, has attended the signing ceremony for an agreement that will oversee the upgrading of the North Cairo Electricity Distribution Company’s (NCEDC) distribution management system.
The agreement will also see the introduction of an advanced metering infrastructure within the company, a statement says.
Egypt’s power sector, which is vitally important for a better quality of life in the country due to its fast-growing population and economy, needs improvement and reinforcing. The Egyptian government has invested in projects that will provide power generation and transmission, focusing on its power distribution network.
In 2016, the Japanese government agreed to provide a loan of £178.9 million to Egypt in order to provide funding that will be used to improve the electrical distribution system in Alexandria, North Cairo, and the North Delta region.
Out of this loan, the North Cairo segment, which represents about £71.6 million, was signed on Monday, November 30, 2020, between the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC), Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) and Elswedy Electric T&D.
The project aims to improve the efficiency of the power distribution network by upgrading the infrastructure management system, while also introducing an advanced meter infrastructure, a statement says.
As a result of this upgrade, electricity blackouts are expected to reduce by one-fifth, while the collection of electricity charge will be more efficient. Electricity theft will also be prevented, the statement adds.
Furthermore, the reduction of distribution losses will also be more climate friendly.
Ambassador Masaki hails the Egypt-Japan partnership on this project, referring to TTC’s long-standing operations in Egypt as a main contractor, while Hitachi ABB has been a manufacturer of power distribution systems in the county for many years.
“Japan has long been supporting the pivotal sector for development in Egypt, which is power and energy, with the commitment of £1.5 billion until now.'
“Recent achievements include the construction of the Gulf Al Zayt Wind Power Plant along the Red Sea coast, and the Cairo North Power Plant,” he adds.
Ambassador Masaki also says that the two countries would continue to work closely together ‘for the purpose of improving the people’s lives through projects in the power and energy sector, including renewable energy for inclusive and sustainable development’.
Egypt's Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker adds his appreciation for Japan's long-term support of the domestic electricity and energy sector. He also states his desire for further enhancing bilateral cooperation between Egypt and Japan.
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.