May 17, 2020

Texas delegation talks energy in Mexico

Admin
2 min
The Zocalo in Mexico City
[email protected] Click here for the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine The Greater Houston Partnership led a delegation of top U.S. business l...

Click here for the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine 

The Greater Houston Partnership led a delegation of top U.S. business leaders to Mexico City on this week to discuss commerce and investment opportunities. The visit follows a resolution for energy reform implemented by the GHP that advocates a balanced approach to energy conservation, economic growth, and job creation on a global scale.

As one of Houston's largest global trade partners, Mexico shares extensive business and cultural connections with Houston. Mexico is Houston's largest international trade partner, while Houston ranks as Mexico's fourth largest U.S. gateway for international trade. In 2012, annual trade between Houston and Mexico totaled $30.6 billion.

More than 1,100 Houston companies report business or trade ties with Mexico. Of the 511 firms in the Houston region affiliated with Mexican subsidiaries, 47 are headquartered in Houston, and operating 152 subsidiary locations throughout Mexico. Firms with significant operations in Mexico include ABS Consulting, Baker Hughes Inc., BJ Services Co., Cameron International Corp., Exterran Holdings Inc., Halliburton Co., National Oilwell Varco Inc., Victory Packaging Inc., and Weatherford International Inc.

Read more about the energy industry:

Mexico's energy reforms allow foreign investment

New power plant project for Baja California, Mexico

Oil companies turn rigs to reefs in the Gulf of Mexico

Mexico's U.S. Consul General Luis Malpica y de la Madrid and Eduardo Aguirre, former U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra and the chairman and CEO of Atlantic Partners Group, were part of the Houston delegation. Delegates also included Houston-area companies with interests ranging from energy and sustainability to international trade and investments. 

The delegation met with PEMEX and several high-level government officials. This was the first time a Houston business delegation has traveled to Mexico to meet with officials under President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration. 

“The energy sector plays a critical role in the well-being of the world economy,” said Ambassador Aguirre, who is a member of the GHP Board of Directors and serves as the chairman of the Partnership's International Investment and Trade Committee. “It is vital that Houston continue to build strong partnerships with strategic global markets, such as Mexico. 

“Mexico and Houston have consistently shared interests in balancing energy demands with sound environmental objectives, economic growth and job creation,” Aguirre said. “Partnerships across nations will secure the future of energy in Houston and ensure the continued prosperity of the world economy.”

Currently, 18 Mexican firms operate 20 subsidiary locations in the Houston metro area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 46.2 percent of Houston's total foreign-born population was born in Mexico.

Houston, the fourth largest city in America, is known as the "Energy Capital of the World" because of its large concentration of oil, gas, and renewable energy companies.

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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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