Culling at Culham
The Written Parliamentary Answer from the Department of Energy published in Hansard does look stupefyingly boring, listing as it blandly does several columns of anticipated expenditure during each year of this Parliament. But actually it reveals some quite extraordinary plans for future profligate public spending between 2015 and 2020. 

The original Question, from the SNP’s Alan Brown, concerned planned spending on nuclear fusion. For decades Her Majesty’s Government has been funding trials for nuclear fusion under the JET programme at Culham, Oxfordshire. To date, whilst it may have provided lucrative employment for many physicists, this has produced not one single kilowatt-hour of useful electricity (whilst consuming a lot of power itself during the research process).  


Effectively this Parliamentary Answer reveals we the taxpayers will be forking out at least £45m during this Parliament towards trying to close down this moribund facility. Think how many older peoples’ homes could be insulated with that money. Except that this government no longer has any dedicated programme (in England at any rate) to deliver such lagging for old lags.

In April 2016 Electrical Review, in response to consistent reader feedback, will be launching the Smart Lighting Summit. In the same way LED lighting has taken energy efficiency to a new level smart lighting is now allowing a more sustainable approached to how this lighting is controlled. The huge rise in the number of connected devices has helped raise awareness to the ‘Internet of Things’, but how will the lighting industry deal with the electrical infrastructure behind.  Electrical Review has been covering the latest developments in smart lighting controls over recent years, but our readers are now demanding more understanding of how they can deliver smart lighting and the challenges they need to overcome in a face-to-face environment.

This event will be an opportunity to meet and network with senior people in the electrical space who will be meeting to learn and gain insights.

The Smart Lighting Summit will be held in the stunning home of the IET at Savoy Place, London. The newly refurbished building already plays host to the global engineering community and supporting technology innovation which makes it an ideal backdrop to this summit.

For further information on what topics the event will cover click here.

If you would be interested in a speaking opportunity please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For commercial opportunities please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A group of senior managers from City Electrical Factors (CEF) will be spending the night of Friday 27 November in a car park in Birmingham, lending its support to St Basils BIG SLEEPOUT, to raise much needed funds for the homeless.

The team hopes to raise £10,000 for St Basils, a charity that works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness across the Midlands. At any one time St Basils could have over 400 young people living in one of their 27 supported accommodation schemes and each year help over 4,000 break the cycle of homelessness by giving them the necessary skills and training.

The charity is striving to raise £750,000 this year to provide intensive support to their young residents for their Learning, Skills and Work service, which is an integral part of helping young people move on successfully.

Hundreds of people take part in the event, spending a cold night with nothing but a sleeping bag, cardboard and team spirit to keep them warm. Every year there is friendly competition to create the best cardboard accommodation. Never ones to turn down a challenge, the CEF team will be keeping busy and warm making their own cardboard creation. You will be able to catch up on how they did at after the event or follow #bigsleepout on social media.

There is still time to make a donation via the CEF Just Giving page!, or you can find out more about the charity at

The new electricity market pricing system that came in to effect on Thursday 5 November will place even more responsibility on generators to improve the management of their supply imbalances or face much higher pricing penalties.

Electrical Review was last week invited to meet Tessa Ogle, the new managing director of the The Electrical Industries Charity.

An experienced general management professional with an extensive track record in leading business growth, Ogle joins the charity from Parsons Brinckerhoff (a Balfour Beatty company) where she held the position of national general manager for oil and gas.

Ogle said:“Since the Electrical Trades Benevolent Institution was founded in 1905 the charity has continued to evolve and now provides financial relief and practical support to more people in the electrical related industries than ever before.

“Two thirds of our current beneficiaries are of working age but the majority are ‘economically inactive’ due to redundancy, illness, injury or caring responsibilities. Our aim as a charity is to reach more working people and provide the support which is essential to them.

“This is therefore a very exciting time to be joining the Electrical Industries Charity and I look forward to working with the industry to ensure that we continue to provide help and support to our people when they need it most.”

Under Ogle’s leadership the charity will focus on four key programmes, the Apprenticeship Support Programme; Employee and Family Support Programme; Pensioner Support Programme and a Practical Participation Programme.

It is so important we continue to support those in our industry who need help. Please do visit for details on future fundraising events.

In last week’s newsletter we reported on training provider JTL chief executive’s response to an Ofsted report suggesting apprenticeships are delivering poor quality for money and seeing thousands of “under achieving” young people.

Jon Graham said he is disappointed the headline messaging that has been seized upon, ignores the very positive results and outcomes many specialist providers are delivering for the UK economy. Read the full article here. 

I received a response from an M&E construction manager:

“I was interested to read your article , I served a very structured JIB apprenticeship with C J Bartley & Co Ltd from June 1981 till July 1984. There was an appointed apprentice manager who had involvement in workplace training and college courses.

Now watching all three of my own children and speaking to their friends who are going through modern Apprenticeships , I see a wide variation in training. Some are very structured ie UKPN others seem to lack any clear direction on what is the end goal and the route to it.

I now work as an M&E manager on London Power Tunnel project , using a wide variety of tradesman, for too many years the educational focus seems to of been to get people into university this seems to of created the situation where we potentially have a lot of chiefs(often with no idea) and very few Indians with the sufficient skillset to become capable tradesman.

I now look at an ageing workforce thinking what will happen when we are too old to work.”

As always, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Training provider JTL’s chief executive has responded to this week’s Ofsted report that seems to suggest apprenticeships are delivering poor quality for money and seeing thousands of “under achieving” young people.

Jon Graham said he is disappointed the headline messaging that has been seized upon, ignores the very positive results and outcomes many specialist providers are delivering for the UK economy.

Graham commented: “We welcome Ofsted’s  investigation into apprenticeship issues and their concerns around quality and accept that their comments have  resonance in the wider apprenticeship field, where many short-term apprenticeships have been developed in areas that do not support fundamental business requirements - such as addressing the national skills shortage.

“However, we’d have liked to have seen more media coverage of the benefits of apprenticeships to the economy too – for instance a recent report estimated a Higher Apprenticeship can increase an individual’s lifetime earning potential by up to £150,000, comparable to the return for a university graduate.

“I also think it’s important to recognise that there are many high quality training providers not reflected in these headlines. Achievement rates on apprenticeships are higher than ever before, and we’re particularly delighted that through pre-screening and ongoing candidate assessment and review, JTL consistently performs 10% higher than the national success rate in our apprenticeship training, with completion rates of around 80%. We know other training organisations have experienced similar success levels with their apprentices too.

“If you delve more deeply into the Ofsted report it does acknowledge that there are training providers doing a good job, so it is very disappointing that the headlines we’ve seen today following publication have treated all apprenticeships in the same way.”

I would be very interested to hear your views.

Following on from last week’s comments on the IET’s warning on counterfeit publications I have received further correspondence on the matter.

A reader commented: “I am afraid I can only agree wholeheartedly with the above and, would also question, which is worse, a counterfeit book, or a book full of counterfeit regulations published by an organisation which is clearly 'not fit for purpose' The very fact that someone has to publish ‘guidance notes’ to the regulations is a clear indication that they have not been drafted properly by what the IEE used to call ‘competent persons’. The old IEE regs were printed in plain English, were easy to understand, minimal in number, and gave a very high level of built in safety protection to electrical installations.The IET regulations are quite the opposite in many ways, including areas of safety.”

This is, by no means, the view of the ER team, but we do value input from our readers.

See the next issue of Electrical Review for the full story.

As ever, I would like to hear your views.

I received an email this week from a reader commenting on a story we featured in our September issue -

The reader, who did not wish to be named, wrote: "I could hardly believe my eyes when I read your warning of counterfeit wiring rules.
The problem of course is the very high price the IET has placed upon the book knowing that they will sell many copies. Getting people to read it is perhaps another subject.
I had a look on Google to see what price is now being asked and noticed the list of customers reviews. This one sums it up very well:

'This is an absolute racket. An overpriced, modestly updated, language-mangling, revenue-generating, time-thief of a book that spawns an industry of courses, guides and guidance notes. The IET could literally send out a couple of photocopied pages detailing the actual changes, like they had to a few years ago when the regs were published with some hideously embarrassing mistakes. (Like forgetting what a ring was.) Still, I shall chuck more than a hundred quid at it to satisfy Napit, and it is a lovely shade of yellow. As a lovely design detail, all IET publications disintegrate after you've had the temerity to check a few things in there'

Surely it is time these regulations were available on line and simple enough for the average electrician to understand. Perhaps the counterfeit edition is in simple English” the ER reader continued.

I would be very interested to hear your views on the matter.

Measure for measure

My many thousands of devoted readers will recall that, over the years, I have become increasingly sceptical about the overall cost of the government’s commitment to see 53 million so-called smart meters installed in British homes and businesses in the next five years. I can quite see the value of the exercise to the Big Six electricity companies, who will be able to dispense with both meter readers and telephone complaint operatives. Confident that all bills sent to consumers will henceforth already be completely accurate.

Electrical Review is launching a new reader survey and the team would be very grateful if you could take five minutes of your time to complete it.

We hope to discover your views on the electrical sector, its drivers and challenges, how you see the future of your business, which events you value.

Most of all, we want to know what you would like to see in Electrical Review in the future, which sections of the magazine you are most likely to read and your views on our website, supplements and e-newsletters.

Please click here to complete the survey.

We look forward to receiving your responses!

Elinore Mackay


Security is mortal’s chiefest enemy

Is every single British electricity-generating company now employing cyber security experts?  I understand American power companies are now under constant, accelerating attack, either from on line troublemakers. Or (more often) from state-sponsored players like China and Iran.

An investigation by the magazine USA today found between 2011 and 2014, there were no less than 362 reports of physical and cyber attacks on electric utility companies. Indeed in 2013 alone some 161 cyber attacks on the energy sector were reported to the US Department of Homeland Security. That is five times higher than just a couple of years before.