Utilities

Both Amit and I used to work in the old energy industry. We didn’t like what we saw: an energy industry that was too complex, too expensive and too dirty. We decided to do something about it. And for the past two years, we and our team have been building a better energy company. A company making energy simpler, cheaper and greener. And we’ve been moving quickly – this month we reached 100,000 members. We want to share the story with you. Get to know us better in our first Behind the scenes at Bulb post.

Bulb Blog 18th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 19 August 2017

Companies

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold its stake in General Electric as of the end of June, according to a regulatory filing on Monday. The conglomerate had previously held 10.6 million shares of GE, according to its regulatory disclosure in May. John Flannery became CEO of General Electric on Aug. 1 after Jeff Immelt stepped down after 16 years. Flannery was previously president and CEO of GE Healthcare.

CNBC 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 August 2017

Utilities

RWE recorded a surge in profits following a tax refund from the German government, with the German utility confirming its full-year earnings would be at the upper end of its forecast range. Shares in RWE rose 3 per cent after the company posted half-year net income of 2.7bn euros up from 457m last year, after receiving a refund of about 1.7bn euros from Berlin. Adjusted net income – which does not include the refund – totalled 809m, a 35 per cent rise on 2016.

FT 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to sell electricity direct to industrial customers is an intelligent and creative one. The shift is strategic and demonstrates that oil and gas majors are capable of adapting to a new world as the transition to a lower carbon economy develops. For those already in the business of providing electricity it represents a dangerous competitive threat. For the other oil majors it poses a direct challenge on whether they are really thinking about the future sufficiently strategically. Three key reasons: First, the state of the energy market. The price of gas in particular has fallen across the world over the last three years to the point where the International Energy Agency describes the current situation as a “glut”. Second, there is the transition to a lower carbon world. No one knows how fast this will move, but one thing is certain: electricity will be at the heart of the shift with power demand increasing in transportation, industry and the services sector as oil and coal are displaced. The third key factor is that the electricity market is not homogenous. The business of supplying power can be segmented. The retail market – supplying millions of households – may be under constant scrutiny with suppliers vilified by the press and governments forced to threaten price caps but supplying power to industrial users is more stable and predictable, and done largely out of the public eye. The main industrial and commercial users are major companies well able to negotiate long-term deals. Given its scale and reputation, Shell is likely to be a supplier of choice for industrial and commercial consumers and potentially capable of shaping prices. This is where the prospect of a powerful new competitor becomes another threat to utilities and retailers whose business models are already under pressure.

FT 14th Aug 2017 read more »

The UK’s increasingly competitive energy market will become a little more crowded later this year with the arrival of Ireland’s state energy provider. ESB, the state-backed supplier for most of Ireland’s homes, is poised to enter the British market within months to battle more than 50 rival suppliers now vying for customer accounts. The Irish incumbent already has an established presence in the UK power generation sector but hopes to establish a more competitive presence through a retail arm. ESB is responsible for one of the few new gas-fired power plants to be built in recent years. The 884MW Carrington plant outside Manchester began generating power last year and ESB also runs the 350MW Corby power plant in Northamptonshire, as well as a wind farm in England and one in Wales.

Telegraph 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Good Energy has today formally urged shareholders to reject an attempt by rival green energy retailer Ecotricity to win two seats on Good Energy’s board, as the war of words between the two companies escalates. Shareholders will meet in Chippenham, Wiltshire, on September 6 to decide whether executives from arch-rival Ecotricity should be granted a presence on Good Energy’s board, Good Energy announced today.

Business Green 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 August 2017

Utilities

British Gas’s price rise propelled ¬energy switching to its highest ever rate on one of the country’s biggest ¬comparison sites. The decision this month by Britain’s biggest energy supplier to raise electricity bills by 12.5pc triggered a two-and-a-half-times increase in switching on comparethemarket.com compared with the same day of the prior week. The site said nearly half those leaving their supplier on the day of the price rise announcement were British Gas customers. The acceleration in switching will bolster expectations of record customer losses for energy’s “Big Six” this year. British Gas increased electricity prices for 3m customers on its standard variable tariff, raising energy bills for the typical dual-fuel customer by £76 to £1,120 per year. Peter Earl, from comparethemarket.com, said the British Gas price rise was “clearly the final straw for many”.

Telegraph 13th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 August 2017

Utilities

Juliet Davenport wore a slightly weary expression. The chief executive of green power supplier Good Energy was recalling the first time she crossed swords with Dale Vince, boss of rival supplier Ecotricity, in 1999. It proved to be the first of many encounters between the two entrepreneurs, whose companies supply households with what they call 100% renewable electricity – generated from wind, solar, hydro power and biofuel. Vince, the new-age traveller turned multimillionaire businessman, has bought 25.3% of Good Energy’s shares – a stake worth about £10m – and initially demanded two seats on the board. He refuses to say whether he will go further and launch a full takeover bid for the AIM-listed company. The clash has some local spice: the two bosses live in Cotswolds country piles just a few miles apart. Vince claims he is motivated by a desire to clean up corporate governance at Good Energy, highlighting its transactions – worth some £4m – with companies owned by Davenport’s husband, Mark Shorrock. Davenport, who owns 3.5% of the shares, argues that Vince’s swoop aims merely to sow discord, and that Good Energy and Ecotricity are incompatible.

Times 13th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 August 2017

Utilities

Npower will remain a drain on its German parent company this year as the Big Six supplier continues to sell energy at a loss to defend its share of the increasingly competitive market. Innogy, which is owned by RWE, said the UK business dragged earnings in its retail arm down 8pc from the year before to 588m euros after slipping to an operating loss in the first half of the year. Npower’s adjusted earnings before interest and tax slumped £78m to a loss of £11m in the first six months of the year. Innogy warned that deeper losses could emerge if a regulatory crackdown on standard energy prices leads to a price cap on bills.

Telegraph 11th Aug 2017 read more »

FT 11th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 12 August 2017

Utilities

The number of customers switching electricity suppliers has risen 14% this year. Over three million customers had already switched their electricity supplier by the end of July, according to the latest figures. UK Energy, the trade association for the energy industry, said one in five had signed up to small or medium sized suppliers. In July alone 385,000 customers switched, a 16% increase on July 2016. Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “There are now over 50 suppliers to choose from, which is driving innovation, improvements to customer service and providing an incentive to keep prices competitive as suppliers fight to keep and attract customers.” Although the largest number of switches were done by customers moving from one large supplier to another, some 34% transferred from a large supplier to a small or mid-tier one.

BBC 11th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 11 August 2017

Toshiba

Toshiba has met a deadline to report its long-awaited earnings results, reducing the risk that the firm will be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The embattled electronics firm posted a loss of $8.8bn (£6.7bn) for the last fiscal year. Auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata gave a “qualified opinion” on the financial statements, meaning it broadly endorsed the results. Toshiba has struggled to recover from a 2015 accounting scandal. In late 2016, billions of dollars in losses at its US nuclear unit Westinghouse were first revealed. Toshiba, looking to diversify away from consumer electronics, had bought the business in 2006. Its financial troubles deepened after delays and costs overruns at two US reactors, and as global appetite for nuclear energy waned following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. Westinghouse was put into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which protects it from creditors while it undergoes restructuring. Toshiba has narrowly escaped de-listing – for now at least. But the troubled firm’s problems are far from over. While auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers Aarata have broadly endorsed the results, there are reports that PwC also issued an “adverse opinion” on Toshiba saying the company didn’t do enough to alert investors about the losses at its US Westinghouse unit soon enough. Toshiba says that it reported the losses as soon as it could. But the risk hasn’t gone away. Another deadline still looms – the company has until March 2018 to resolve its debt issues. Analysts say it’s hard to see how the beleaguered electronics giant won’t face delisting soon – simply because trust in the firm’s ability to resurrect itself is at an all time-low and the company hasn’t done much to infuse investors with confidence.

BBC 10th Aug 2017 read more »

Toshiba Corp has likely avoided immediate delisting after its auditor signed off on its financial results albeit with criticism of its governance, yet its future remains uncertain with no progress in talks to sell its chips unit for much-needed cash. PriceWaterhouseCoopers Aarata LLC (PwC) gave a “qualified opinion” on Toshiba’s results for the year ended March as well as for April-June, according to a filing. That means the auditor broadly vouched for Toshiba’s book-keeping. However, PwC also issued a rare “adverse opinion” on the firm’s internal controls, saying losses at its now bankrupt U.S. nuclear arm Westinghouse were not booked in a timely manner.

Reuters 10th Aug 2017 read more »

Cumbrian new nuclear backer Toshiba is set to have long-awaited results signed off by its auditor, with criticisms, according to new reports. The Japanese giant owns NuGen, which has plans for a £10bn power plant in Moorside, near Sellafield. It was due to publish results in February but these have been delayed with multiple deadlines missed. Unaudited accounts have forecast a £6.5bn loss. Japan’s Nikkei publication has said that auditors PwC Aarata will sign off the accounts with an adverse opinion on the company’s internal governance expressed.

Carlisle News and Star 9th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 August 2017

Utilities

German utility Eon said it would increase its dividend next year, after a large tax refund allowed it to reduce debt by nearly 5bn euros. The announcement came as the company reaffirmed its guidance for full-year earnings of 2.8bn-3.1bn euros. Johannes Teyssen, chief executive, said Eon had strengthened its balance sheet and reduced debt faster than planned.

FT 9th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 August 2017

Utilities

Royal Dutch Shell is to launch as an electricity supplier in Britain, challenging some of Europe’s biggest utilities. The oil major has applied for a licence to supply power to businesses across Britain and plans to start signing up industrial customers now to provide them with electricity early next year. Shell also will establish a significant business at a stroke by taking over power supply to all 600 sites that it owns in the UK, comprising about 550 petrol stations as well as its offices, terminals and oil and gas platforms. The move forms part of a strategic push into the electricity sector by the Anglo-Dutch company as it adapts to rising global demand for clean energy. Ben van Beurden, chief executive, said last month that “further electrification of the economy” would be crucial if the world was to hit its climate targets and could hasten the point at which global oil demand would peak. Shell needed to adapt by getting “involved in the electrical chain, in the renewable business and more in petrochemicals”, he said.

Times 7th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 7 August 2017