Jul 7, 2014

SolarReserve to put Australian Investment Plans on Hold

Energy Policy
2 min
One of the U.S.’ biggest solar companies, SolarReserve, is putting its Australian investment plans on hold. Kevin Smith, the company&rs...

One of the U.S.’ biggest solar companies, SolarReserve, is putting its Australian investment plans on hold.

Kevin Smith, the company’s CEO, expressed several concerns about moves made by the Australian government that are unfriendly toward renewable energy companies.

Smith cited a “drift” in policy and the planned repeal of the carbon tax. His biggest concern, though, was the appointment of Dick Warburton to lead a review of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The RET is designed to ensure that by 2020, 20 percent of Australia’s electricity will come from renewable sources. Smith’s concern is that Warburton, who has expressed skepticism about carbon emissions’ role in global warming, will cause Australia to not meet that goal.

"That policy change pretty much took the life out of the renewable energy sector as far as large-scale projects for utility applications [are concerned]," Smith told Australia’s ABC News.

"It's pretty clear that the policy in Australia is now being centered around big coal. The coal industry clearly has rallied to move policy away from renewable energies because they view renewable energy as a threat and want to move back to convention coal."

This comes shortly after the release of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Market 2030 outlook report, in which the projection for solar in Australia is highly positive. The report projects that roughly $55 million will be spent in new electrical energy generation over the next decade. However, the report also notes the deployment of large-scale renewables will be affected by the government’s shift in policy, such as the changing of the RET.

The BNEF reported in May that reducing the RET could lead to a AUD 12 billion drop in investment fund and the loss of a potential 6,600 renewable energy jobs each year. If the RET is scrapped altogether, investment losses could total in the range of AUD 21 billion and potential job loss could reach 11,100 per year.

The report also projected growth in renewable energy for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Smith is deeply concerned about Australia’s future in renewable energy. "Other markets around the world are advancing. Australia is going to get left behind,” he said. 

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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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