May 17, 2020

Tips for utilities companies to manage costs

Admin
3 min
Liquid petroleum
[email protected] Make sure to check out the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine By Adam Groff If you think your monthly utility bill costs a fo...

Make sure to check out the latest issue of Energy Digital magazine 

By Adam Groff

If you think your monthly utility bill costs a fortune, just imagine how much it costs for utilities companies to produce electricity. As all-things energy related rise in price, utilities companies across the country and world are feeling the same sting consumers are experiencing.

So, with affordable electricity in mind, here are a handful of ways utilities companies can better manage costs:

Alternative Energy

With everything oil-related skyrocketing in price, the best move utilities companies can make is looking into alternative forms of energy. Simply put, fossil fuels are in short supply and when utilities companies base their energy production on a quickly depleting source, prices have nowhere to go but up.

Although wind and solar energy are great alternative energy sources, they’re generally too costly for something as large scale as a utility plant. But, a popular alternative for utilities companies is liquid petroleum (LP). By converting to LP, utilities companies save on energy production without much upfront costs.

Smart Meters

Analog electricity meters that seem to endlessly turn day and night are actually costing utilities companies and consumers more to run due to inefficiency. But, digital smart meters allow for more accurate energy readings, which results in lower operating costs on both ends of the energy spectrum.

Aside from the efficiency factor, smart meters are also monitored remotely. What this means for utilities companies is cost reductions in the staffing department. Because smart meters don’t require on-location readouts, man-hours are drastically minimized, which results in savings for utilities companies.

Consumer Power Production

As energy technologies advance, so do the ways in which that energy is delivered. And, with the prevalence of household solar power, more and more utilities companies are encouraging their own customers to give back to the grid.

Read more about utilities:

Keeping the U.S. energy grid safe

Utilities bringing power to the people

Can utilities use the cloud effectively?

Households that produce more solar power than they consume can revert that power back to the local grid, which results in huge savings for both the homeowner and the utilities company. So, utilities companies should seek out neighborhood power-producers and encourage them to become part of the grid.

Energy Conservation Best Practices

By informing the public on how they can do their part to conserve energy, both consumers and utilities companies win. There are a number of ways to get consumers to reduce their energy usage:

Start a Neighborhood Program – Utilities companies can campaign for energy cost reductions by starting a neighborhood energy-saving program. Energy-saving programs are a great way to inform the general public on energy costs and encourage them to cut down on their usage.

Home Tips ­– Advertising seasonal energy saving tips is another great way utilities companies can encourage at-home energy conservation. And, when consumers are in-the-know about how much energy is wasted with every light that’s left on and every temperature increase or decrease on the a/c thermostat, it results in savings for the homeowner and the utilities company.

Free Energy Audits ­– By performing free energy audits, utilities companies can give homeowners a detailed report on exactly how much energy their home is wasting as well as ways to improve their home’s energy efficiency.

By keeping in mind the information above, utilities companies can find new ways to keep costs down.

About the author: Adam Groff writes on a variety of topics including personal health, free financial software, and the environment.

 

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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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