May 17, 2020

Hagel announces U.S. Arctic strategy

Admin
3 min
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
Last week U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered the keynote address at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Because...

Last week U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered the keynote address at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Because climate change will open the Arctic in the next decade, the U.S. Defense Department has developed a strategy to maintain peace and security in the region where substantial amounts of natural resources may be soon available.

According to Karen Parrish, of the American Forces Press Service, Hagel pointed out that climate change is “new to the modern world.” While it doesn’t cause conflict directly, he noted, climate change can add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.

“Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters – all place additional burdens on economies, societies, and institutions around the world,” he said. “Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is a reminder of humanitarian disaster brought on by nature. And climatologists warn us of the increased probability of more destructive storms to come.”

At the same time, Hagel noted, global energy demands will place more emphasis on emerging sources of energy from new frontiers, including the Arctic.

Read more stories on oil and gas exploration:

Oil field options in Russia's Arctic Circle

Statoil and NASA reach agreement

Economics will drive Arctic development

As reported by Parrish, here are some of the highlights of Hagel’s presentation on what the United State’s strategy will be in the Arctic:

   - Hagel said that expanded tourism, commercial shipping, migrating fish stocks and energy exploration in the region will affect the eight Arctic nations – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden, along with the United States – most closely.

   - Remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to the United States, and continue to exercise U.S. sovereignty in and around Alaska.

   - Work with both private and public-sector partners, including the state of Alaska and Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, to improve understanding and awareness of the Arctic environment “so that we can operate safely and effectively.”

   - Help preserve freedom of the seas throughout the region, within existing frameworks of international law.

   - Carefully evolve U.S. Arctic infrastructure and capabilities at a pace consistent with changing conditions.

   - Be prepared to help respond to man-made and natural disasters in the region.

   - Work with other agencies and nations, as well as Alaska natives, to protect the environmental integrity of the Arctic.

   - “We will support the development of the Arctic Council and other international institutions that promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.”

   - Hagel said that throughout history, “Mankind has raced to discover the next frontier. And time after time, discovery was swiftly followed by conflict. We cannot erase this history. But we can assure that history does not repeat itself in the Arctic.”

DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

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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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