Oil and Gas Truckers Staying Safe on the Road
Today, 25 percent of auto crashes are caused by distracted driving, claiming nine lives each day. Moreover, each vehicle accident costs an average of $25,000, totaling $43 billion annually. For fleet trucks carrying volatile oil and gasoline products, a minor rear-end crash can have disastrous consequences.
With this in mind, Riggins Oil, a New Jersey-based family owned and operated fuel distribution company, looked for innovative solutions that would reduce the risk of distracted driving to the company, its drivers, and the general public.Riggins turned to Cellcontrol to prevent potential inappropriate mobile device use in its fleet.
Powered by patented non-pairing Bluetooth device policy and data transport technology, Cellcontrol prevents drivers from inappropriately using mobile devices to send and receive calls, text, email, browse the web and use apps when a vehicle is in motion.
In May 2013, Riggins installed the technology in each truck and has already seen an improvement in safe driving. The regional fuel leader was also able to reduce its overall risk profile in advance of its insurance policy renewal, and believes its partnership with Cellcontrol can reduce risk exposure and impact risk financing.
Riggins set a company specific policy for its drivers, requiring them to use hands-free devices for calls and forbidding them from texting, emailing and web surfing on any mobile device while the truck was in motion. The company was able to phase in this policy from its central headquarters so that drivers could get accustomed to the changes. One driver reported that while the use of the phone was restricted, he felt like it helped him focus on the road.
The company’s strategy director, Matt Riggins, said, “There are all sorts of distractions out on the road. Anything we can do to limit those distractions is a benefit for our drivers, our company, and the public.”
Riggins added that productivity of the overall dispatch operation improved because the technology allowed communications to go through to the phones without distracting the driver.
“We could send important information to drivers via email or text without worrying about whether they would glance at it while rolling down the highway,” he said. “Once they stopped, they could see the information we needed them to see.”
Cellcontrol’s fleet solution also provides Riggins with advanced reporting, such as mileage, idle time, hard breaking and rapid acceleration snapshots
“Many Cellcontrol fleet customers see an immediate double digit reduction in rear end crashes after installing our technology,” said Cellcontrol’s CEO Rob Guba. “This makes it the perfect solution for oil and gas distributors like Riggins, where mitigating risk is top priority. We’re proud to call Riggins a customer and help keep their drivers, assets and community safe.”
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.