£7.3m project to improve electricity supplies between Fernhurst and Plaistow is now under way

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has commenced work on its £7.3m project to install over 20km of new underground electricity cables between Fernhurst and Plaistow which, when complete, will make supplies to 6,800 customers more robust, resilient and minimise the risk of power cuts.

The cable route, which begins at SSEN’s main substation at Fernhurst and ends at Plaistow, takes in a combination of public roads and private land. With narrow, tree-lined roads an integral part of the local area’s traditional appeal, working to install over 20km of new cable has required months of detailed planning in conjunction with the Highways Department at Hampshire Highways to ensure that there is minimum disruption to the local community.

The first phase of the project, which starts midway along  Vann Road and heads towards Fernhurst Crossroads, is currently progressing well, and is due to be completed mid-April. For the safety of road-users and staff working on site, Vann Road is closed to all non-essential traffic and all HGVs, with only residents’ access available.

Teams are working five days a week and in areas with higher traffic volumes, weekend working will be in operation from 7am to 5pm.

SSEN’s Project Manager, James Rooney said: “We want to do everything we can to make sure our customers get the best possible service at all times, and this £7.3m project will make the local network more robust and resilient and reduce the risk of power cuts. Also, as we are replacing the existing overhead lines with new underground cables, we are removing the risk of trees coming into contact with our network, which has been the major cause of power cuts in recent years.

“We realise that these essential road closures and diversion routes will have an impact on some people’s working day commutes, and we would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause and offer our assurances that we will do everything we can to complete the work as safely and as quickly as possible.”

SSEN is hosting a Public Information Session at Fernhurst Village Hall, Glebe Road, Fernhurst GU27 3EH on Thursday 15 March, between 3pm-7:30pm, where members of the project team will be on hand to answer any questions that the local community may have about this essential work, and explain more about the benefits the 12-month project will bring. Free tea, coffee and biscuits will be provided.


Record number of UK energy customers switched supplier in February

LONDON (Reuters) – A record number of British energy customers switched supplier in February, data from industry group Energy UK showed on Monday.

* 668,000 customers switched during the month, the highest monthly switching figure recorded, despite February being the shortest month of the year.

* The data comes as Britain’s energy firms are under pressure to reduce bills and as regulator Ofgem prepares to issue a price cap on the most widely used tariffs.

*It also continues last year’s trend when a record 5.5 million customers switched in 2017 up from 4.8 million in 2016, Energy UK said.

*The data does not show exactly which companies gained or lost customers but shows almost half the switches were between large suppliers, while almost a quarter of switches were from larger firms to smaller suppliers.*There are now over 60 energy suppliers in Britain.

*Britain’s big six energy suppliers, controlling around 80 percent of the market are Centrica’s (CNA.L) British Gas, SSE (SSE.L), E.ON (EONGn.DE), EDF Energy (EDF.PA), Innogy’s (IGY.DE) Npower and Iberdrola’s (IBE.MC) Scottish Power.



Opus Energy has officially opened its new headquarters, based in The Lakes Business Park, Northamptonshire, bringing 700 staff under one roof.

The new headquarters is known as Opus Energy House, a refurbished state of the art building which will unify the brand’s four offices in the county.

Complemented by its sites in Cardiff and Oxford, the office houses numerous key business roles, including customer services, operations, IT, HR, sales, renewables and business change.

Nikki Flanders, chief operations officer at Opus Energy, said: “Today marks a key milestone for Opus Energy and I am delighted to officially open our new headquarters.

“The new office is the largest investment in our people to date, built to create an energising environment for our teams.

“We’ve already invested in flexible benefits, free private healthcare and bonus schemes, and now we can also offer our teams a fantastic, state of the art working environment.”

Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire commented: “Opus Energy is one of the region’s leading employers and I am delighted to see investment in local jobs and infrastructure.

“Northampton is the home of small business with the highest concentration of small businesses in the East Midlands.

“Leading firms investing in the area are key to this, and we are delighted to have Opus Energy in the region.”

The refurbishment has seen some innovative additions, including a well-being room and studio to prioritise employee wellness.

Other benefits include a subsidised restaurant, courtyards and a rooftop terrace, as well as plentiful parking, green surroundings, good connections with public transport and a location close to the city centre.

Nikki Flanders concluded: “We embrace our role as an award-winning supplier in the business energy sector and have clear targets to ensure we continue to not only expand but also to continue to support and energise businesses across the country.

“We made this investment to help attract the best talent in customer service, IT, smart metering and energy service, so we can, in turn, continue to provide excellent service to our customers. We’re excited to have moved in!”

Opus Energy is the UK’s sixth biggest business energy supplier, ranking in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for the last six years, most recently in 6th position.

It employs over 900 people between Northampton, Oxford and Cardiff, and was named one of the Top 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015 by The Sunday Times.

Opus Energy supplies more than 315,000 business locations across the UK with electricity and gas.


UK weather latest: National Grid issues ‘gas deficit warning’ over fears supplies could run out due to freezing temperatures

The National Grid has issued a “gas deficit warning” over fears supplies could run out as temperatures plummet across the country.

The operator of the UK’s power network issued the guidance at 5am on Thursday as supply slipped 48 million cubic metres short of demand.

A spokesperson said the notice was a “first stage” warning to say “it’s looking tight”, which will remain in place until 5am on Friday.

What happens if we actually run out of gas?

“National gas demand today is high and due to the extreme weather conditions, there have been gas supply losses overnight,” the operator said in a statement. “At 5.45am this morning we issued a ‘Gas Deficit Warning’ to the market.

“This is an indication to the market that we’d like more gas to be made available to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the national gas network. We are in communication with industry partners and are closely monitoring the situation.”

Ofgem threatens toughest ever blow to energy network profits

The energy regulator has put forward plans for its toughest ever clampdown on energy network profits in a bid to save households £5bn over five years.

In a second major blow to the energy industry ahead of its proposed retail price cap, Ofgem has laid out plans to cut the amount of revenue energy companies such as UK Power Networks, SSE Electricity Networks and Scottish Power’s SP Energy Networks can return to shareholders.

Amid mounting political scrutiny of the sector, focus has turned to the part network costs play in adding to household energy bills.

The operators of Britain’s electricity and gas grids claim around £250 a year from an average annual energy bill of £1,100 to maintain the pipes and wires that deliver energy to 30 million homes.

But under Ofgem’s new plans customers should be able to save between £15 – £25 a year, in what amounts to the regulator’s biggest ever cut to companies’ allowed revenue.

Ofgem will tighten the screw on network profits by slashing the cost of equity, which is paid to shareholders, from a baseline of between 6-7pc under its current regime to between 3-5pc from 2021.

The lower end of the range goes much further than the recommendation of a independent study commissioned by industry body the Energy Networks Association, which called for returns of around 6pc.

Ofgem has argued that energy networks should follow the lead of water companies, which have faced a tighter squeeze on their allowed revenues.

The energy sector is rapidly changing and consumers must be confident they continue to get good value for moneyJonathan Brearly, Ofgem

But the ENA maintains that energy networks face greater technology challenges, which mean their investors require higher returns. New technologies, such as renewable power and smart grids, mean more investment is needed to upgrade the grid. However critics of the network companies believe they are making unfair profits at the expense of customers under Ofgem’s watch.

Official figures show that even with a baseline rate of return of around 6pc network companies have been able to make returns as high as 12pc by clinching rewards for beating their regulatory targets.

Ofgem has also suggested shortening the regulatory control period from eight years to five.

Jonathan Brearly, Ofgem’s networks boss, said the shorter price control would help regulation keep pace with the rapid changes in the energy system.

“The energy sector is rapidly changing and consumers must be confident they continue to get good value for money for the services the networks deliver,” Mr Brearley said.