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EU Commission investigates UK’s Capacity Market scheme

It follows the EU Court’s landmark ruling which led to the suspension of the scheme last November

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TOP NEWS: SSE To Raise Energy Tariffs To Match UK Ofgem Price Cap

LONDON (Alliance News) – Energy company SSE PLC said on Thursday its Energy Services division will increase prices in line the rise in UK regulator Ofgem’s price cap with effect on April 1.

Customers on the dual-fuel Standard Variable tariff will see prices rise by GBP117 per annum, giving a new typical annual bill of GBP1,254. Customers on the Energy assist tariff will have their prices aligned with those on the standard variable tariff, meaning an annual bill of GBP1,254.

Customers on the Pay As You Go tariff will see prices increase by GBP106 per annum, resulting in an average annual bill of GBP1,242.

Ofgem announced on February 7 that it would increase the price cap for default and standard variable gas and electricity tariffs by GBP117 to GBP1,254 a year from April 1 due to hikes in wholesale costs paid by utilities such as SSE.

The watchdog said previously that those affected would still pay a “fair price” for their energy as the increase reflects a genuine rise in underlying wholesale costs, rather than provider profiteering.

SSE follows Centrica PLC unit British Gas, E.ON, EDF and Npower, all of whom said last week they would be raising their prices to match the cap.

“We regret having to raise prices but with wholesale costs having steadily increased, as shown by Ofgem’s calculations, we need to pass these on in our prices. However, we don’t want our customers worrying about their energy bills and there is a lot of support available, including financial rebates for vulnerable customers, energy efficiency advice and access to money saving tariffs and bundles,” said Chief Operating Officer Tony Keeling.

Shares in SSE were down 0.8% at 1,186.00 pence on Thursday.

By Dayo Laniyan; dayolaniyan@alliancenews.com

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Energy provider Solarplicity banned from taking on new customers

Energy provider Solarplicity has been banned from taking on new customers due to its poor switching process and customer service.

Regulator Ofgem has imposed a three-month ban on the company, which will only be lifted if the firm “significantly improves”.

The watchdog said Solarplicity’s customer service “has been poor for a number of months”.

Between March and September last year there was an unacceptably high proportion of calls abandoned and unacceptably long call waiting times, Ofgem said.

Although call handling has improved, the regulator said it “has not seen the required improvements elsewhere”.

Measures Ofgem has recommended include ensuring customer contact channels are improved, managed and maintained, with queries and issues being resolved in a timely manner, and making sure the switching process goes smoothly, with switches completed within the required timescales.

Mary Starks, executive director of consumers and markets at Ofgem, said: “We have taken action against Solarplicity to protect its customers from experiencing further detriment.

“Solarplicity must get its house in order and provide a level of service that its customers expect. If not, Ofgem will take the necessary steps to ensure customers are further protected and will take the relevant action needed to do this, which may result in its licence being revoked.”

On Friday, Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home services, said: “Solarplicity finished rock bottom in our annual energy satisfaction survey, with scores of customers complaining about appalling customer service over the phone and online – so it’s right that the regulator is stepping in.

“As millions of energy customers brace themselves for yet another eye-watering set of price hikes, this should also serve as a warning to all firms letting their customers down with shoddy service, billing and payment problems or poor complaints handling that they need to up their game.”

A Solarplicity spokesperson said: “We are committed to meeting the expectations of every single Solarplicity customer, but Ofgem’s decision, which was made on old historical data, disregards the vast improvements that we have made to our customer service.

“In November, Which? rated us as the fastest energy company to respond to customer calls thanks to substantial additional investment in our staff and IT systems. This investment has also significantly strengthened our account switching service, and the vast majority of our customers are able to switch their accounts well within the 21 day limit.”

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Energy price cap one week on: three firms to raise gas and electricity prices

Just one week after an increase to the energy price cap was announced, three major power companies have said they would raise prices for customers. Eon was the first to announce it would up prices to the maximum amount permitted from April, when the level of the price cap on standard and default tariffs changes.

Eon announced its price rise just two working days after energy regulator Ofgem confirmed it was raising the cap. EDF Energy and Npower followed suit within two days. Both will also charge customers who use a medium amount energy £118 more per year than they currently do.

From 1 April, energy companies are permitted to charge customers who use a medium amount of gas and electricity £1,254 per year on average. At the moment, they can charge the same customers up to £1,137 per year. Being on a price-capped tariff doesn’t protect you from price increases. With more companies expected to follow suit and announce price rises, you could save up to £348 per year by switching.

Being on a price-capped tariff doesn’t protect you from price increases. With more companies expected to follow suit and announce price rises, you could save up to £348 per year by switching.

Will my energy supplier raise prices? So far, we know that the following energy firms plan to increase their prices from 1 April. Here we’ve listed those companies, as well as how much they will charge a medium user.

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/02/energy-price-cap-one-week-on-three-firms-to-raise-gas-and-electricity-prices/ – Which?

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Utilitywise goes into administration

Energy broker Utilitywise has gone into administration, putting 1,000 jobs at risk.

The firm, which helps business clients to procure gas and electricity, said it had been unable to raise enough cash to cover its debts.

It also said a plan to sell the business had fallen through.

The collapse of Utilitywise (UTW) comes after a last-ditch rescue bid by the Newcastle-based company’s founder, Geoffrey Thompson.

Last month, it emerged it needed £10m to keep its business afloat, after coming up against “unexpected challenges and legacy issues”.

After failing to clinch the investment from shareholders, the company put itself up for sale at the end of January.

But in a statement on its website on Wednesday, it said the formal sale process for the group announced by the board “did not result in any offers”.

“Consequently, the directors of UTW sought the appointment of administrators.”

The firm has appointed FTI Consulting to handle the administration process and said its energy brokerage business would stop trading immediately.

However, its other subsidiary companies will continue trading while buyers for those parts of the group are sought.

Mr Thompson, who stepped down from the board two years ago, built UTW from a bedroom in South Shields into a multi-million-pound business listed on the AIM stock exchange.

According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, the firm had recently warned staff it could not guarantee it could pay them in March.

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Scotland to fund UK’s biggest CCS study with six-figure investment

Scotland is to plough a six-figure investment into the UK’s biggest ever carbon capture and storage (CCS) research study.

The Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and Scottish Enterprise confirmed last night they will each commit £50,000 in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and halt climate change.

The £150,000 fund will go towards supporting a research partnership involving several Scottish universities, including Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University (RGU).

The cash injection aims to support the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage (SCCS) knowledge exchange partnership, which brings together academia, industry and government.

Formed in 2005, SCCS assisted in bringing Scottish experts to the EU-funded Acorn Project.

Led by energy consultants Pale Blue Dot Energy, the Acorn project is working to develop the UK’s first operational carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the St Fergus Gas Terminal in Aberdeenshire.

The Acorn project will now move towards full design studies.

The project received funding from the Scottish Government, UK Government, and the European Union.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said “The Scottish Government has been consistent in our strong commitment to the development and implementation of CCS technologies, as indicated by our providing funding to Pale Blue Dot Energy’s Acorn CCS Project at St Fergus, and to SCCS.

“Our waters in the North Sea also provides access to vast carbon storage resources in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and we believe that coupled with our existing oil and gas capabilities, ready supply chain, and strategically important industrial clusters, Scotland is potentially the best-placed country in Europe to realise CCS on a commercial scale.”

The Acorn project will see existing terminal infrastructure re-purposed to capture around 200,000 tonnes of CO2 per year initially, which will then be transported for storage in depleted North Sea gas fields, using re-conditioned existing pipelines.

Stuart Fancey, SFC director of research and innovation, said: “Scotland is home to the knowledge that the world needs to make carbon capture and storage an everyday reality, reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.

“SCCS brings expertise from our universities and their partners to bear on the challenges of this new technology, a technology that can work with existing oil and gas infrastructure and offer new economic opportunities for Scotland.”

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Scottish Power to raise standard energy prices by 10 pct from April 1

LONDON, Feb 20 (Reuters) –

* Scottish Power, owned by Iberdrola said it will raise standard energy prices by 10 percent from April 1, in line with a price cap which regulator Ofgem raised by the same amount earlier this month

* The energy supplier is the fifth of the “Bix Six” UK energy suppliers to raise standard variable tariffs in the past couple of weeks

* SSE is the remaining supplier yet to announce a rise (Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Jason Neely)

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British Gas are the latest energy supplier to announce price rise

British Gas has become the fourth ‘big six’ energy supplier to announce a hike in its standard variable tariff.

The 10% price hike from April 1 will affect around four million British Gas customers who will see their bills rise to an average £1,254 to meet the regulator Ofgem’s latest price cap.

Prepayment meter customers will also face a £107 (9%) price rise.

In the last nine days EDF , E.ON and Npower have revealed its variable tariff would rise by 10%, adding hundreds of pounds to bills.

Ofgem announced on February 7 that it would increase the price cap for default and standard variable gas and electricity tariffs by £117 to £1,254 a year from April 1 due to hikes in wholesale costs.

The watchdog said previously that those affected would still pay a “fair price” for their energy as the increase reflects a genuine rise in underlying wholesale costs, rather than provider profiteering.

British Gas declined to comment specifically on its latest price rise but referred to a statement in January when it said it intended to adjust its standard variable tariff and default tariff pricing to broadly reflect Ofgem’s cap.

British Gas follows E.ON, EDF and npower, who all announced last week that they would be raising their prices to match the cap.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, said: “British Gas’ confirmation that it is hiking bills up to the maximum permitted by the price cap should surprise no one, but that doesn’t mean their customers should fall for the price cap trap.

“Eight million households already know they’ll be part of possibly the largest energy price rise ever to happen on a single day when the new cap kicks in on 1 April.

“With more suppliers expected to raise their prices to the new cap, over half the energy customers in Britain could affected.

“But they have a chance to escape being part of the grim statistics, instead they can save hundreds of pounds by switching away.”

“Nine in 10 energy deals available today are cheaper than the new cap will be. Now is the time for energy customers to grab one of those cheap deals and find themselves up to £324(5) a year better off.”

Stephen Murray, energy spokesman at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Ofgem opened the door to supplier price rises earlier this month and now the big six are kicking it down.

“For E.ON, EDF and npower last week, now read British Gas.

Alex Neill, managing director of home services at consumer group Which?, said: “The energy price cap will be cold comfort for the millions of British Gas customers who will now face eye-watering price hikes in April.

“This is the fourth price increase announcement in quick succession with the rest of the big six expected to follow suit.

“While there are fewer cheap deals on the market than a year ago, energy customers can still save almost £300 a year by switching to secure a better deal before the April hike.”

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E.ON UK to raise energy prices by 10 percent from April

LONDON (Reuters) – E.ON UK (EONGn.DE) will raise its standard variable energy prices by just over 10 percent from April, becoming the first of Britain’s “big six” energy firms to announce a rise in line with regulator Ofgem’s new price cap.

Last week, Ofgem said the cap on duel-fuel bills – both gas and electricity – would rise by 117 pounds a year, or 10.3 percent, to 1,254 pounds a year from April 1 for average energy use.

“In line with that, we’ll be making changes to our standard variable tariff prices from 1st April and expect to see similar movements across the energy industry,” an E.ON UK spokeswoman said via email.

Ofgem was told by parliament last year to set a limit after lawmakers said customers were being overcharged for electricity and gas. Prime Minister Theresa May had called the tariffs a “rip-off”.

The regulator last week said the cap would rise from April to reflect higher costs for energy suppliers such as wholesale prices, which it said were 17 percent higher than during the last cap period.

Several of Britain’s biggest suppliers, a group known as the big six, which control around 70 percent of the market, complained the cap was initially set too low and most are expected to up their prices to match the cap level.

Innogy’s (IGY.DE) npower said the cap was partly why it announced plans last month to shed 900 jobs.

Britain’s other big six energy suppliers are Centrica’s (CNA.L) British Gas, SSE (SSE.L), Iberdrola’s (IBE.MC) Scottish Power and EDF Energy. (EDF.PA)

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Bristol Energy first UK supplier to trial ‘heat as a service’

Bristol Energy have been working with Energy Systems Catapult to become the first energy supplier in the UK to trial selling ‘heat as a service’, rather than kilowatt hours (kWh).

Bristol Energy first UK supplier to trial ‘heat as a service’

Bristol Energy have been working with Energy Systems Catapult to become the first energy supplier in the UK to trial selling ‘heat as a service’, rather than kilowatt hours (kWh).

Currently energy suppliers in the UK can only sell energy to customers in strict units known as kilowatt hours (kWh). But a government-backed trial is offering households the chance to buy a Heat Plan tailored to their individual home and lifestyle.

Capitalising on digitalisation and emerging smart home technology, heat as a service provides consumers with improved control over their heating, making it easier for them to identify where they are wasting heat.

Crucially, it also gives consumers the ability to determine and pay for different levels of warmth and comfort depending on their lifestyle, through smart technology.

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Energy Systems Catapault (ESC) have been running detailed trials over the past two years with residents in a ‘Living Lab’ of 100 homes spread across the UK. Each property has been upgraded to smart home levels that are predicted to be common by the middle of the 2020s, with sensors providing room-by-room temperature control linked to a digital platform.

In a first of its kind trial, running this winter and over the next 12 months, households in Catapult’s Living Lab will be offered the chance to switch to a newly-designed Heat Plan by Bristol Energy.

Everything we do at Bristol Energy is founded in social purpose. The heat plan trial in collaboration with Energy Systems Catapult is an important step in our journey to creating energy products which are fairly priced for everyone, support sustainable energy supply and the decarbonisation of our homes and businesses. By testing heat as a service, we can truly understand what our customers need, rather than just giving them what we think they want.

-Samantha Nicol, Head of Innovation and Marketing at Bristol Energy

Bristol Energy will be continuing to trial and evolve the product before bringing it to market later in 2019. This is an exciting product development that is the first step in revolutionising heating our homes.

Read about smart metering technology