ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson & Yellowstone
Rex Tillerson is one of the most powerful men in business, and this oilman is a no nonsense kind of guy. Texas-born Tillerson worked his way up the Exxon corporate ladder ever since graduating with a civil engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin. It was in 2004 that Tillerson was named President and Director of ExxonMobil, and in 2006 he was appointed as Chairmen and CEO.
While Tillerson has spent the majority of his adult life working for Exxon, he also has another lifelong interest: Scouting. Yes, Rex Tillerson was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in 1965, and has proudly promoted scouting throughout his professional career. In 2009, Tillerson was inducted into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame of the Greater New York Councils. On May 23, 2010, he was appointed as the National President of the Boy Scouts of America.
So what would his Scouting brethren think of ExxonMobil’s recent oil spill on the Yellowstone River—arguably one of the most beautiful and pristine waterways in America? 42,000 gallons of crude oil reportedly traveled 240 miles downstream from where an ExxonMobil pipeline buried beneath the Yellowstone River ruptured. ExxonMobil officials were quick to act, stopping the leak in a matter of hours after being reported and bringing in ground crews to sop up the oily mess along riverbeds.
With the oil industry recovering from BP’s massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico just one year prior, ExxonMobil isn’t winning any friends, despite its speedy response to the spill. Ironically, Mr. Tillerson was most vocal in response to BP CEO Bob Dudley’s remarks that it is “unrealistic” to dismiss the BP spill as a “‘black swan,’ a one-in-a-million occurrence that carries no wider application for our industry as a principally.”
It looks like Rex Tillerson may have put his foot in his mouth. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is being very demanding with Tillerson to release details on the type of oil spilled so as to better understand how to clean it up and what possible damage it can cause to the river’s ecosystem. It looks like this CEO has landed in some murky water. What would a Scout do? More importantly for Tillerson, what do his beloved Scouts think of him after this spill?
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.