Jun 16, 2016

Electricity demand to surge during today’s England vs. Wales match

2 min
The UK’s National Grid is readying itself for a surge in electricity demand when England take on Wales in their second group stage game of the...

The UK’s National Grid is readying itself for a surge in electricity demand when England take on Wales in their second group stage game of the European Championships this afternoon.

The spike in demand for electricity, known as a ‘TV pick-up’, occurs when people simultaneously open fridge doors, boil kettles or turn lights on — often when a programme finishes or takes an ad break. 

Analysts forecast that games featuring the home nations will create the biggest surge in demand throughout the whole tournament. During the group stage, the England versus Wales match-up will likely create the most significant TV pick-up.

Experts have estimated an increase in demand of 1100MW at half-time. This is the equivalent of 73 million fridge doors opening at once, or 440,000 kettles boiling.

Jeremy Caplin, Energy Forecasting Manager at National Grid, said: “Our control room engineers are hugely experienced in managing the electricity system around the clock, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“It’s our job as system operator to balance the country’s supply and demand of electricity minute-by-minute in real time and transport it from where it is generated, to where it is needed.”

If any of the home nations reach the final in July, and a nail-biting match ending in penalties leaves supporters glued to their screens, the National Grid believes demand could surge as high as 2000MW.

“As England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are all competing this summer, we anticipate these spikes will get bigger and bigger if any of the home nations progress into the knock-out rounds,” Caplin said.

Currently, 2800MW is the UK’s TV pick-up record, occurring in 1990 during the World Cup semi-final between England and West Germany.

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

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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