May 17, 2020

TransCanada Oil Pipeline Work Halted by Texan Landowner

energy digital
TransCanada
Keystone XL
Oil
Admin
2 min
Texan farmers' fury continues to build
In Texas, a judge ordered the halting of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline after a landowner filed a lawsuit claiming that the company lied to Te...

 

In Texas, a judge ordered the halting of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline after a landowner filed a lawsuit claiming that the company lied to Texans about type of oil it would be transporting.

Landowner Michael Bishop, a 64-year-old retired chemist in medical school, claims that TransCanada lied in telling Texans that it would use the pipeline to transport crude oil, which will instead be used to transport tar sands oil, or diluted bitumen. According to Bishop, tar sands oil does not meet the state's definition of crude oil as “liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures,” he told the Associated Press, which mean it “has to be heated and diluted in order to even be transmitted.”

Environmentalists argue that tar sands oil is a lot more difficult to cleanup should a spill occur, contaminating nearby water and land. Not to mention, refining the product in Texas will raise its already high greenhouse gas emissions rates.

Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinze will not hear the case until Dec. 19, which was quickly pushed to Dec. 13, according to TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard. According to statements released by the company, the tar sands are in fact a form of crude oil and the pipeline is expected to come back into operation in late 2013.

Earlier this year, many other Texan farmers expressed their opposition to the pipeline. According to a blog from the NRDC's Susan Casey-Leftkowitz, the plan to split the giant pipeline in two and start building in Texas will put landowners at high risk and will likely lead to even higher gas prices in the Midwest:

“...it will divert tar sands from the Midwest to the Gulf, raising American oil prices and likely also gasoline prices,” Casey-Leftkowitz writes. “An Oklahoma to Texas tar sands pipeline will mean more tar sands converted to diesel and available for export overseas. It will mean less tar sands remaining in the US, even while Americans bear the risks of the pipeline.”

It's a tough fight, but Bishop is determined to make his case. Despite the oil giant's legal power and support expected to make an appearance at the hearing, he told the Associated Press:

"Bring 'em on. I'm a United States Marine. I'm not afraid of anyone. I'm not afraid of them... When I'm done with them, they will know that they've been in a fight. I may not win, but I'm going to hurt them."

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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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