Centrica, Britain’s biggest gas and electricity supplier, is to sell off its non-core asset the Automobile Association

The sale of the AA is expected to provide for a substantial cash return to shareholders as well as to pay for more gas acquisitions.

The group paid £1.1bn for the AA in 1999. The effective price, however, was £740m as the motoring organisation came with £360m of cash. AA’s profits have risen from £6m in 1999 to £93m last year. Its membership has risen from 9.5m to 15m over the same period.

A £90m UK government scheme to subsidise electricity prices for Northern Ireland’s business community has been delayed by Brussels. The three-year programme was due to have been put in place by the end of June but has not won approval from the European Commission.

Northern Ireland Electricity said that it had agreed to keep the business tariffs, as they are to give the Department of Enterprise more time to negotiate with the European Commission.

A DETI spokesman said the state aid scheme was aimed at pegging tariffs for industrial and business customers at 10% below true costs. The subsidies are designed to boost industrial competitiveness in Northern Ireland.

Native American tribes in Oregon have hit ScottishPower with a $1bn lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the company damming the Klamath river in Oregon, which they regard as sacred, as part of an hydro-electric power scheme.

Klamath River Dams is owned an operated by PacifiCorp, a wholly owned subsidiary of ScottishPower. Headquartered in Glasgow, ScottishPower is the 28th largest energy company in the world, quoted as being worth over $14bn.

For over 7,000 years native people, such as the Klamath, Hoopa and Yurok tribes, have used the Klamath river as a place of worship, healing and meditation. When in 1916 a power company built a dam across the Klamath, the tribes were concerned. The damn would stop salmon migrating upstream and add food shortages to the tribes' problems.

Nearly 90 years later, and following the construction of another four dams, the tribes have taken legal action claiming the dams have destroyed their constitutional fishing rights.

The legal action is, according to the tribes, a last resort following the collapse of a promise by ScottishPower to build salmon runs, allowing fish to bypass the dams.

The lawsuit could be damaging to ScottishPower, as a company claiming to pride itself on its green initiatives.

The five dams on the Klamath generate just 2% of the company's hydroelectricity.

ScottishPower's problems could be compounded by the fact the licence to run the hydroelectric dams is up for renewal. The tribes hope the legal action may put pressure on the Federal Electricity Regulator Commission to insist salmon runs are built at the dams.

French electricity supply workers are threatening to cut the cross-channel power link to Britain as they raise the stakes in their protest against the French government’s privatisation plans.

Unions have organised a number of well-targeted strikes in protest at the decision to sell-off Electricite de France, the state utility that owns London Electricity, Seeboard and SWEB.

With the introduction of an emissions trading scheme, gas and electricity prices will rise, says an Ernst & Young survey of electricity generators.

The European Emissions Trading scheme is due to start next year and is seen as a vital step if Europe is to reach Kyoto targets of cutting carbon emissions by 8%.

A survey of 200 generating companies suggested that gas prices could rise by 20% over the next two years and wholesale electricity prices are expected to rise by 15%.

Michael Cupit, director of emissions at Ernst & Young, said: “Large energy users such as steel mills and paper mills will feel the brunt of these, though consumers may be protected if the worst of the price rises are absorbed by the generators.”

The US will fund Bulgaria’s first commercial wind electricity generation to increase the country’s productivity and renewable resources.

The US Trade and Development Agency will provide $384,000 for research into electricity generation from wind in Karlovo. General Electric Wind Energy, Georgia, and Electrotech Concepts, Virginia, will conduct the studies.

The mayor of Karlovo, Emil Kabaivanov, and the US ambassador to Bulgaria, James Pardew, signed an agreement on Monday.

A 130-year old converted water tower in Cheshire is using waste heat from telecommunications equipment to supply its heating needs.

Specially adapted Honeywell controls were installed at Lymm Tower House by the contractor, Zalti Controls, for the individual control of 16 manifolds, each controlling an underfloor heating zone within the 5,500 square feet of living space.

Five mobile phone networks use the tower as a base station. Each has a chilled water-cooling system for its electronics. The combined waste energy these produce is channelled through a heat exchanger, which meets all the home’s heating needs. Remaining heat energy is dissipated by a chiller unit at ground level.

The tower’s owner, Russell Harris, hopes heat loss from the double-glazed extension and the tower itself will be minimal, and expects the ‘free’ recovered heat to be more than sufficient for all domestic needs. A boiler for backup heat has been installed, but Harris hopes it will never need to be used.

Energy minister Stephen Timms this week announced an extra £2.2m in funding for UK solar projects.

The funding will assist 24 projects, enabling the creation of almost 650kWp. Projects were awarded to 11 regions and nine different installers and housing associations, councils, schools and businesses are among those who will benefit.

This round of funding assists medium- to large-scale solar electric power installations (5-100kWp) under the government’s £25m Major Photovoltaics Demonstration Programme.

The assisted projects include a children’s hospice in Guildford, a Huddersfield housing development and a school on the Isle of Wight.

Timms said: "This latest successful round is further proof of the growing appeal of solar power in the UK. To date this Government has awarded £15m worth of grants to various projects. The growth and development of the solar power industry will help take us a step closer to achieving our renewable energy target of 10% of electricity by 2010."

The first high-performance electric delivery vehicle in the UK light commercial vehicle market hit the streets of Sheffield this week.

e-Mercury has a top speed of 50mph, can travel 100 miles before it needs refuelling and can carry up to two tonnes. It creates zero emissions and is virtually silent, for which it is has been made exempt from congestion charges and road tax.

The powertrains from Azure Dynamics used to run e-Mercury lead to cheaper costs than equivalent re-fuelling with diesel and should, the company claims, save its drivers at least £1,000 each year. e-Mercury has fewer running parts than a diesel vehicle, so the maintenance cost is also lower.

The vehicle was developed by LTI Vehicles – the company behind the London Taxi hackney cab – and Sheffield City Council is the first local authority to have taken the vehicles on trial.

Energy Saving Trust’s TransportEnergy New Vehicle Technology Fund supplied LTI with £634,611 to cover the costs of three demonstration projects – developing two electric and one hybrid vehicle technology systems.

The head of TransportEnergy, Richard Tarboton, said: “The New Vehicle Technology Fund exists to support the development and demonstration of new cleaner alternative vehicle technologies that will lead the way in improving the quality of our urban environments and reducing the human impact on global climate change.”

Iraqi authorities have deployed 6,000 "electricity police" to guard the distribution network. A senior coalition official said attacks on the oil and electricity distribution systems are becoming "more spectacular and aggressive". The official said: "It seems now there is real focus on the infrastructure, to wreak havoc, to turn the Iraqis against the interim government."

In Baghdad, anger is boiling over as the city of five million approaches summer - a time when temperatures are expected to rise to near 50 Celsius. On Friday, it was 41 Celsius.

Before the war, Baghdad residents enjoyed about 20 hours of electricity a day. Now they're lucky to get eight, usually broken into two-hour runs or less.

The coalition electricity spokesman said Iraq needs at least 7,000MW of electricity and engineers hope to get 6,000MW online by midsummer.

For most Iraqis the occupation authorities are to blame.

"Even when the Americans were bombing us, the lights didn't go out," said Hikmat Abdul-Wahid, standing outside his darkened house.

The electrical utility in Syracuse, New York will provide its 6,845 residents in the Solvay district with high-speed web access through their electrical outlets.

Solvay Electric Department superintendent John Montone says the Syracuse suburb would be the first place in the state to offer broadband over power lines to homes and businesses.

The equipment was tested for about five months in the Lakeland area, which gets its power from the village. Users would pay a fee, as for cable high-speed internet, and rent or buy a modem that plugs into the electrical outlet.

The high-speed internet access would be offered at a cost of about $25 a month, said New Visions president Carmen Branca. He called broadband over power lines the next generation in high-speed internet access, saying it is generally 10 to 30 times faster than dial-up service.

Time Warner currently charges $44 monthly for high-speed internet through cable TV lines. Mike Cullim, a general manager at Time Warner's East Syracuse office, said the competition in Solvay would be good for the marketplace, and Time Warner is always evaluating its rates.

A national survey of 72 US utilities found that 38% of them had some interest in this emerging technology, but only 3% were offering it.

This week saw the launch of the Power Academy at the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) in London, aimed at combating a serious shortfall in the number of power engineers in the UK.

A joint initiative between the UK's electricity network companies, three leading engineering universities and the IEE, the programme will recruit 40 undergraduates, with the numbers rising every year as demand increases.

The Academy will be funded by the network companies and will cover tuition fees, provide a bursary and money for course materials, provide paid summer placements and offer a summer school in business and management skills.

Launching the initiative, Stephen Timms, the UK energy minister, said: "We are committed to maintaining reliable and secure power supplies and that means ensuring the people who manage this process are of the highest calibre. The Power Academy will prove an invaluable asset in identifying and nurturing expertise in the electricity generation field."

Bill Olner MP, chairman of the Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group has this week tabled an Early Day Motion congratulating all those involved in creating the Power Academy. He said: "We all rely on the skill and expertise of engineers to keep the country's electricity networks running. We need to be confident enough younger people are entering the profession to replace those approaching retirement. This initiative is most welcome and deserves parliament's backing, which is why I have tabled a motion which I hope will attract wide cross-party support."

The networking companies backing the Power Academy are Central Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, Western Power Distribution, CE Electric, United Utilities and National Grid Transco, as well as EA Technology - the R&D arm of the networking companies. The supporting universities are the University of Strathclyde, the University of Southampton and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.