Business / Finance / Regulation

News and analysis concerning energy sector regulatory changes, bills, laws, utility compliance issues and shifts in government structure and policy. Project finance, energy sector surveys and reports on energy market trends, business risks and opportunities, together with information on cross border transmission and distribution is included.

British Gas wins back 1 million customers

[img:british%20gas%20logo.thumbnail.gif| ]London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- May 21, 2007 – Despite having the lowest service ratings on energyhelpline.com, a switch and save web site, because of having the highest volume of upheld complaints to energywatch, British Gas has won back nearly a million customers this year. According to energyhelpline.com, British Gas’s success is due to three factors:

Compos Mentis – Holding the bag

Compos MentisOur cultures have evolved in strange ways. Sure, we all can appreciate sports fans who want to wear their team’s coloured T-shirt emblazoned with the logo and city, or the hat that proclaims their allegiance to a football or baseball team.

That is a matter of being a proud and enthusiastic fan! But who would have thought that people of all ages would pay money to buy shirts that proclaim, in big letters and bold graphics, the name of some clothing manufacturer? Nike? Reebok? Gap? Old Navy? Abercrombie & Fitch? Armani? Levi Strauss? Gucci? Versace? And the list goes on.

Elster Group Announces New CEO

Jim McGivern
Jim McGivern has joined Elster Group, a manufacturer of integrated metering and utilisation solutions, as chief executive officer.

McGivern has had 15 years of experience in the international water and wastewater industry. In 1999 he was president of Thames Water’s international business, responsible for operations and growth in over 30 countries.

Prepayment meter market continues to expand

The market for prepayment meters continues to grow, and South African manufacturer Grinpal has been awarded contracts worth about R690m (US$97.3 million) to supply prepaid electricity metering systems to India and the Dominican Republic.

Grinpal is a 50-50 joint venture between multinational technology company Saab Grintek and South African-owned engineering firm Palace Engineering Services. The Indian contract has been signed with power distributor Emco, and work on installing 3 million meters began in March.

Itron completes acquisition of Actaris Metering Systems

Itron’s acquisition of Actaris Metering Systems has been completed, creating a worldwide company with more than 8,000 utility customers and 33 manufacturing facilities. Itron is a leading supplier of AMR systems and electricity meters in North America, while Actaris is a leader in electricity, gas and water metering, primarily outside of North America.

The acquisition, which cost $1.7 billion, will allow Actaris to offer Itron’s AMR and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technologies, software and systems expertise to customers outside of North America, and expand Actaris gas and water meter opportunities in North America.

Oracle buys LODESTAR

Oracle Corp. plans to purchase meter data management provider LODESTAR Corp. as part of its strategy to build up skills in several vertical industries including the utilities sector. Subject to closing conditions, Oracle expects to complete the acquisition in May when LODESTAR staff will become part of Oracle’s utilities global business unit.

Oracle acquired a suite of utilities applications last year when it bought SPL WorldGroup in November. SPL provides revenue and operations management software for utilities, and Oracle positioned SPL’s utilities products as complementary to LODESTAR’s software. In addition to meter data management, LODESTAR sells commercial and industrial billing, transaction management, and load research, forecasting and profiling software.

New company to provide metering, billing solutions in Colombia

A new company, Falcon International, has been launched in Bogotá, Colombia to provide metering and vending solutions across that country. Bringing together proven off-the-shelf technologies from leading service providers globally, Falcon International’s aim is to provide an integrated solution that is tailored for the Colombian and Latin American markets.

The initial focus is on setting up the vending infrastructure, with the aim being to utilise the large number of small businesses that line the streets of Bogotá and the country’s other cities to set up in excess of 200,000 vending outlets across Colombia that will sell products including prepaid cellular time and later prepaid electricity and other commodities.

CVC sells ista to Charterhouse

CVC Capital Partners has sold its stake in ista International to Charterhouse Capital Partners after CVC acquired ista in a management buy-out in June 2003.

ista is a global leader in the area of submetering and billing of energy, water and ancillary costs. The company is active in 24 countries across Europe, North America and Asia. Sales increased under CVC’s ownership from approximately €460 million ($610 million) in 2002 to €600 million ($796 million) in 2006, while ista’s share of international revenues expanded from 27 per cent to almost 50 percent over the same period of time. This was primarily driven by organic growth and a number of acquisitions, both internationally and in Germany. ista’s staff increased under CVC’s ownership from 3,700 to 4,500.

British Gas voted worst for customer satisfaction

[img:004%20-%20Ann%20Robinson%20%28Director%20of%20Consumer%20Policy%29_0.jpg|Ann Robinson,
Consumer Policy
Director,
uSwitch.com
]London, U.K. --- (METERING.COM) --- May 18, 2007 -British Gas has been voted as the U.K.’s worst energy supplier in a new consumer satisfaction survey by price comparison and switching website uSwitch.com.

Although overall customer satisfaction levels had increased to 60% from 52% in the past twelve months and British Gas's customers recorded an 11% increase on last year's performance, it remained the lowest in terms of satisfaction for the second year running – and despite 900,000 customers returning to its services following two price cuts earlier this year.

Dynamic pricing could save $35 billion in electricity costs

[img:Ahmed%20faruqui.thumbnail.jpg|Ahmad Faruqui,
Brattle Group
] Cambridge, MA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- May 17, 2007 - A new review shows that demand response programs based on advanced metering and dynamic pricing could reduce peak load in the United States by at least 5% over the next few years, with a value of $35 billion over the next 20 years.

The review paper, entitled “The Power of Five Percent: How Dynamic Pricing Can Save $35 Billion in Electricity Costs” by Ahmad Faruqui, Ryan Hledik, Sam Newell, and Johannes Pfeifenberger of the Brattle Group, says that the potential impact of demand response is large and significant. Using the best available technologies, the national peak demand reduction potential is as much as 22.9 percent, while a cost-effective mix of technologies could lower peak demand by 11.5 percent. However, based on realistically achievable penetration rates the market potential of demand response is estimated at 5 percent, which in turn translates into savings in generation, transmission and distribution costs of $3 billion per year.

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