Green Finance Plan heralds changes to energy ratings, Ofwat seeks changes to Welsh contestable works and the UK ratifies the Net Zero pledge

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The ratification of the Draft “Net Zero” legislation last week means the UK is now officially the first major global economy to commit to ending contributions to climate change by becoming a carbon neutral nation.

So, it’s rather handy that HM Treasury has been working with the City to launch a Green Finance Strategy, which was formally published this morning. The Strategy sets out how financiers and investors can support the clean growth agenda including .

This includes a commitment to look at how landlords and businesses can better understand and disclose their operational energy use (for example, through a commercial Display Energy Certificate). A consultation on minimum energy efficiency standards in the non-domestic sector will be released later this summer.

You’d have thought that businesses wouldn’t need legislation to make them look at energy saving; the latest statistical release on energy prices shows that in 2018, UK industrial electricity prices rose by 12%; the average rise across the EU15 was only 0.8%.

With such huge financial drivers, it’s good to know that the Call for Evidence on building a market for Energy Efficiency received over 90 responses; BEIS has published a summary of these, with the government response expected to follow soon.

Or maybe, the answer to rising prices is to buy when the market is cheap and store it for use at a later, more expensive time of day. There is great news for the storage community as a consultation out now from Ofgem seeks to create a subset for storage within the electricity generation licence. This means it will no longer have to pay network charges twice, instead paying only on import and not when power is returned to the grid.

A formal, legal definition of storage in the Electricity Act is dependent on parliamentary time to change this primary legislation.

Ofwat has also been looking at licences, with proposed changes to new connection charges in Wales. Following a request from the Welsh Government, changes will be delayed to April 2022 and Ofwat will use that time to fully develop an efficient and cost-effective charging regime for contestable works.

Unfortunately, it’s not been such great news in the Water sector lately. The publication of a Ofwat investigation which found Southern Water had been breaching their environmental permit requirements was rightly met with outrage from the public so Rachel Fletcher, Chief Executive of Ofwat has penned an Open Letter to the industry reminding them of their environmental obligations, but also of the need to engage with customers to better understand how the water sector is impacting the community it serves.

I think this is good advice for all businesses operating in the utilities sector, whether permitted and heavily regulated, or simply offering advice and consultancy.

Customers’ trust depends on companies behaving with honesty, integrity and putting the community we serve first.

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