Boiler Scrappage Scheme Closes To New Applications

(Guardian) – THE GOVERNMENT’S boiler scrappage scheme, which offered £400 to householders to encourage them to upgrade to a more energy-efficient central heating scheme, has closed to new applications after running out of money.

The scheme, launched in January, was aimed at cutting carbon emissions as well as helping people save money on their energy bills.

Up to 125,000 households in England with working boilers with the lowest “G” rating were able to apply for vouchers from the Energy Saving Trust, which they could put towards buying an A-rated boiler or installing a renewable heating system such as a biomass boiler or heat pump.

This afternoon the government announced that all 125,000 vouchers had been taken up and that the scheme is now closed.

“The scheme’s been a great success and is already helping people cut down on their fuel bills. An ‘A-rated’ energy-efficient boiler can help save around £200 a year off fuel bills and reduce emissions,” said Lord Hunt, energy and climate change minister.

“The scheme has also provided a much needed boost to England’s plumbers and boiler manufacturers, helping to sustain work for the 130,000 installers and up to 25 UK-based boiler manufacturers throughout the economic recovery.”

Some energy suppliers will continue to run their own promotional schemes.

Over the past two months, all the major energy companies which sell and install boilers (British Gas, E.On, npower and Scottish & Southern) have matched the government’s offer, giving householders potentially a total of £800 off the cost of a new efficient boiler and some boiler manufacturers are also offering deals.

NPower confirmed today that it would continue with its own scheme – it differs from the government’s in that customers only have to have a boiler that is over 10 years old to be eligible to receive a £400 discount.

Recently published figures from the Energy Savings Trust show that, as at 16 March, 118,785 vouchers had been allocated and 35,390 boilers had been installed. Since then the full allocation of vouchers has been taken up.

People have up to 12 weeks after receiving their voucher to have the work done. A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said there were no plans to reopen the scheme at the moment or to reissue any unused vouchers.

E.On Centre To Close In Rayleigh

(BBC) – ENERGY COMPANY E.On has announced the closure of a call centre in Essex, in June, with the loss of 600 jobs.

The site in London Road, Rayleigh, will shut completely and 200 other jobs will go in IT support and energy services.

The company said that it wanted to “streamline” its customer service operations by “creating centres of excellence” elsewhere in the UK.

The union Unison described the plans as a “bitter blow that will hit families in Rayleigh hard”.

Graham Bartlett, managing director of E.On’s retail business, said: “The decision to close the Rayleigh site was not a move that we’ve taken lightly.

“But the fact of the matter is that our retail business has only just returned to profit after years of loss-making and, to ensure we can continue to do that, we have to make these tough choices.”

General secretary of Unison union Dave Prentis said: “This announcement will come as a bitter blow and a terrible shock to call centre workers at E.On.

“Every redundancy is a personal tragedy, and the loss of hundreds of jobs will hit families in Rayleigh hard.

“They could run a call centre from anywhere, so could choose to keep these jobs in Rayleigh.”

The union wants to have a meeting with the company and has called on the government to help save the jobs.

E.On has said it will offer relocation packages and hopes some people will take voluntary redundancy.

The company currently employs 16,000 people in the UK.

… (22/04/2010) – Rayleigh Call Centre Closure Confirmed

Frozen Britain May Run Short Of Gas

(Telegraph) – THE FREEZING WEATHER has raised fears that Britain could run short of gas after the National Grid issued only its second warning in 30 years over surging consumption.

Demand for gas – the fuel used to heat about two thirds of Britain’s homes – has risen to about 30 per cent above seasonal norms with Britain in the grip of one of its coldest winters for 100 years.

While it is unlikely that households will find their supplies restricted, a shortage could lead to higher bills.

The National Grid, responsible for meeting the country’s energy requirements issued a gas balancing alert yesterday to give warning that any further falls in supply could force big users like power plants to cut their consumption.

Extra gas supplies were rushed out to the liquefied natural gas importation terminal in Kent through pipelines in Belgium and Norway following the alert.

The National Grid said the risk of shortages had been temporarily averted by the influx. “Supplies of gas to the UK have increased following the issuing of a gas balancing alert today,” a spokesman said.

Unusually cold weather is set to continue over the next two weeks, and the National Grid has not ruled out sending out further supply warnings.

In the event of a serious shortage, big industrial consumers are expected to bear the brunt of gas consumption cuts to shield residential users who rely on the fuel to keep warm.

Consumers Face Hike In Energy Bills

(Reuters) – CONSUMERS COULD SEE THEIR ENERGY BILLS rise by up to a quarter over the next 10 years as Britain faces a requirement to invest £200 billion to secure supplies and meet climate change targets.

Energy regulator Ofgem said today the investment would be needed to pay for new power plants and other infrastructure.

‘Given the massive levels of investment needed, there is a high likelihood of rising consumer bills, especially if oil and gas prices continue their underlying rise since 2003,’ Ofgem said following a review of Britain’s energy supplies.

The regulator said customers could face increases in domestic energy bills of between 14% and 25% by 2020, while wholesale price spikes could lead to temporary increases in bills of up to 60% in the interim period.

Ofgem said Britain faces a number of challenges to its gas and electricity supplies over the next ten to fifteen years including power stations nearing the ends of their lives and an increasing need to import gas via volatile global markets.

‘These are big challenges. Britain faces a tough challenge in maintaining secure supplies whilst at the same time meeting its climate change targets,’ said Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan.

Shadow Energy Secretary Greg Clark said the country faces a combination of price rises and worries that power supplies are going to be interrupted.

‘It’s yet another piece of evidence that we face a real problem here. It’s really a horror show,’ he said.

Britain’s main gas and electricity suppliers are Centrica, EDF, E.ON, RWE, Iberdrola’s Scottish Power, and Scottish & Southern Energy.

Ofgem said it will put forward proposals in the new year on how the industry can meet the challenges following a consultation period.