Natural gas exports will create thousands of jobs, says Sen. Landrieu
U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, held a hearing this week on how increasing exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will create thousands of high-paying jobs, support U.S. allies abroad, and potential reduce Russia’s energy influence in Europe. The hearing, titled “Importing Energy, Exporting Jobs — Can it be reversed?,” was Landrieu’s first as chair of the committee.
“Thanks to extraordinary and swift advances in technology to locate, capture and produce natural gas, this committee will discuss the expanded opportunities to export LNG, the possibilities to create high-paying jobs in America and support our allies in Europe and budding democracies across the world,” Landrieu said. “The last thing [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his cronies want is competition from the United States of America in the energy race.”
Last week, Russia sanctioned nine U.S. officials, denying them entry into Russia because they hold views in opposition to Russia’s actions against the Ukraine. Sen. Landrieu was among the nine sanctioned officials.
In his testimony before the committee this week, Dr. David Montgomery, senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting, stated that LNG exports from the U.S. could reduce Russia’s stranglehold on energy supplies to Europe. Immediate announcement of a policy of allowing unlimited LNG exports would signal potential competition that Russia would have to meet by offering lower natural gas prices as it renegotiates its supply contracts with Europe.
Landrieu also touts the importance of creating high paying jobs by increasing LNG production and exportation in the U.S.
A 2013 study by David Dismukes at LSU found that by 2019 more than 200,000 jobs will be created by new unconventional energy production in Louisiana alone. A recent LSU report estimated that from 2012 – 2018, approximately $47 billion of private sector investment will be made in new and existing plants and projects in Louisiana. That investment is expected to create more than 37,000 new, high-paying jobs.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in my home state of Louisiana and all along the Gulf Coast – America’s energy coast,” Landrieu said. “The oil and gas industry supports over 300,000 jobs in Louisiana, and has been a major factor in securing below average unemployment for the last five years.”
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.