The Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) has slammed Ofgem for failing to ensure energy company profits are transparent.

On behalf of the Committee, Sir Robert Smith MP said:“ At a time when many people are struggling with the rising costs of energy, consumers need reassurance that the profits being made by the Big Six are not excessive.

“Unfortunately, the complex vertically-integrated structure of these companies means that working out exactly how their profits are made requires forensic accountants.

“Ofgem should shine a brighter light on the internal structure of these big companies.”

I would be interested to hear your views.

New from the Electrical Review team this year is the Annual Specification Guide. The new publication is aimed at electrical engineers, project managers, consultants and electrical contractors.

This print and online resource will provide a best practice guide to specifying electrical systems in buildings and industry, from plugs and sockets through to HV substation installation and smart grids.

Late last week, a number of national newspapers reported on a study by uSwitch.com, which revealed 86% of consumers struggled to understand their utility bills.

The comparison website warned people were left "potentially out of pocket by jargon-heavy and over-complicated household bills", and families have been over-charged by £6.7bn on household bills over the last year.

The study identified energy suppliers as the worst offenders for baffling bills - and said more than eight in ten people (82%) find energy bills harder to understand than any other household bill.

In the last week, energy regulator Ofgem published proposals to combat electricity theft - estimated to cost customers £200m a year.

The regulator requested power firms do more to combat the problem, with a third of the electricity stolen to power cannabis farms.

Cannabis farms require large volumes of electricity to operate. Based on Ofgem's interviews with suppliers and DNOs, recently detected cannabis farms have, on average, an estimated consumption of around 12,000 kWh per month, 40 times the typical domestic consumption of around 300 kWh per month. This consumption is often not paid for, either because it is unrecorded (because of meter tampering) or because the bill is not paid.

Come to the same conclusion

I am trying to come to terms with the realisation that, amongst my millions of devoted readers, none are to be found in the shale gas division of the American Department of Energy in Washington DC. Otherwise they would surely never have issued their breathless report on the enormous worldwide potential for shale, which concluded “within Europe, the UK stand next after Poland in pursuing its shale...potential."

The Electrical Review team last week attended an event, organised by Recolight (a UK specialist compliance scheme for the lighting industry), to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the WEEE regulations.

Recolight chief executive, Nigel Harvey, commented on the milestones Recolight has reached: “Recolight’s passion for and dedication to lamp recycling is clear from the figures. We have funded the recycling of over 175 million lamps since July 2007, and lamp recycling rates have increased from 27.2% in 2008 to 39.5% in 2012. Since the beginning of 2010 we have also seen our membership more than double from 56 to over 127 members, with a 16% increase in the last 12 months alone. We have a diverse range of members from the largest companies in the lighting sector right through to those just entering the market.”

Electrical Review has been inundated with readers’ comments about Part P, following an article by John Houston – reproduced below. We asked Phil Buckle, director general of the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) – which led the fight to maintain Part P – to respond to some of the issues raised

I’m not surprised by the continuing debate about Part P and the recent amendments made to the regulation. It was one of the main agenda items at the ESC industry summit, last March, and it forms a significant part of our forthcoming White Paper on the changing industry landscape. However, as I can’t go into great detail here in response to all the issues raised by ER readers, I will focus on some of their key points.

Unacceptable interference

Those who wish this nation military harm are being aided by the drive to build on-shore windfarms. At least, according to the Ministry of Defence.

An application to build an eight turbine, 20 megawatt, windfarm on Hill of Braco near Aberdeen is being strenuously opposed - on the grounds that it would obstruct the capabilities of a radar station’s ability to “detect threats to UK airspace”. This is even though the nearest radar station is over five miles away at RAF Buchan.

Over the last two weeks we have had numerous responses to an article penned by Electrical Review correspondent John Houston (featured below). Thanks to John Moss for another insightful reply. The original response from Philip Whitley can also be seen below.

Dear Editor

Many thanks for publishing Philip Whitley’s measured response – it was marvellous to see a well thought through argument that tells how the current situation has arisen.

The only point that I can add is that analagous awfulness occurs in (my) HVAC industry, where academics and the academically nominally qualified pronounce on technical matters that they don’t actually understand. Some don’t know that they don’t know but others are afraid to admit it, being conceptually competent but practically dangerous “engineers” who never have to take their concepts through to realisation.”

John Moss

Arup

In last week's e-newsletter we reported on an anonymous phonecall received by Electrical Review correspondent John Houston. The anonymous caller relayed his concern over the failings of Part P certification. The article, reproduced below, attracted a number of replies from readers of Electrical Review. A selection of those responses can be found here:


As a tradesman myself I don't believe that Part P is solving anything. It's still not going to stop your DIY enthusiasts from "having a bash". Some of the stuff we come accross on a day to day basis is absolutely shocking and should by no means have been attempted in the first place.

Having Part P in place stops nothing at all. People are still getting away with installing shoddy installations.....who's going to know?!

The bonus is that we get work rectifying these issues once faults occur, proper tradesmen that have actually trained and worked their way up from being young lads!

No matter what schemes are brought in, it still isn't going to stop the cowboys!!
Ashley Speight

Not of concern

There are several renewable electricity developers who secretly might have liked to be nicknamed ‘the Lord of the Wind.’  But perhaps rather less so, now the Italian government has announced its biggest ever confiscation of mafia assets, worth a staggering total of 1.3 billion euros (£1.1bn). And guess what? Most of this money was tied up in alternative energy companies.

If a car mechanic deliberately shortcut a service that subsequently resulted in the death of the driver, they would almost certainly be jailed. Yet, until a few weeks ago, the negligent practice of two electricians that directly resulted in the death of a young Midland mother, looked like it may go unpunished.