Aug 28, 2015

Southern Company and AGL Resources to merge in $12 billion utilities deal

Admin
3 min
As natural gas steadily becomes a larger part of the energy landscape in the United States, utility companies are looking for ways to better incorpor...

As natural gas steadily becomes a larger part of the energy landscape in the United States, utility companies are looking for ways to better incorporate natural gas into their offerings to consumers and businesses. In order to upgrade its own capabilities, electric utility Southern Company has acquired natural gas specialist AGL Resources Inc. in a $12 billion merger deal.

As a result of this transaction, Atlanta-based AGL Resources will become a wholly owned subsidiary of its fellow Atlanta-based acquirer Southern Company. While AGL Resources will maintain its own management team, board of directors and headquarters, it will also bolster Southern Company with the strength of its extensive natural gas resources. According to a press release issued this week, this new entity will have the resources to supply nine million people through the strength of 200,000 miles of electric transmission and 80,000 miles of gas pipelines with generating capacity of 46,000 megawatts, distributed via 11 regulated regional electric and gas distribution companies.

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According to Southern Company executives, the decision to acquire AGL Resources Inc. is strongly influenced by the rise of natural gas and Southern Company’s need to stay ahead of energy trends in its need to meet consumer energy demands:

"As America's leader in developing the full portfolio of energy resources, we believe the addition of AGL Resources to our business will better position Southern Company to play offense in supporting America's energy future through additional natural gas infrastructure," said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning, in a joint press release issued to announce the acquisition. "For some time we have expressed our desire to explore opportunities to participate in natural gas infrastructure development. With AGL Resources' experienced team operating premier natural gas utilities and their investments in several major infrastructure projects, this is a natural fit for both companies.

 

Fanning also noted that the sterling reputation of AGL Resources among customers was also a strong selling point:  

"We believe this combination will also advance our customer-focused business model. AGL Resources and Southern Company have long been leading corporate citizens and the combined company will further our support of all of the communities we serve," Fanning added.

 

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AGL Resources CEO and chairman John W. Somerhalder II also commented on its support for the merger and the synergies between the two companies:

“Both companies are committed to safely delivering clean, reliable, affordable energy while providing customers with world-class service. The respective models of Southern Company and AGL Resources focus on the fundamental values of safety, operational excellence and environmental stewardship. […] We've found a strong partner in Southern Company with its complementary businesses, excellent reputation and shared values. They have committed to continuing our tradition of community and philanthropic support and exceptional service to customers. We look forward to working with Southern Company to complete the transaction as expeditiously as possible and ensure a smooth transition."

 

This is no small merger—Fortune 1000 lister AGL Resources has been noted as one of the largest natural gas distributors in the United States, and this deal will create the second-largest utility company in the country. If shareholders approve, the merger is expected to be completed within the second half of 2016.

[SOURCE: PR Newswire]

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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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