News Round-Up: Phone Scams, Smart Energy And Engineering

Several utility companies are looking at smart ways to manage and monitor energy in this week’s news round-up. At the same time, a major provider is warning customers about scam phone calls while another has overcome safety concerns in their engineering.

Welsh WaterSouthern WaterUnited UtilitiesSouthern Electric
Welsh Water Warning About Fake Phone Calls

welshwaterWelsh Water is telling its customers to watch out for fake phone callers who are pretending to be from the utility company.

The provider, which serves over 1.3 million homes and businesses in Wales, is reminding customers that it will only ever take payments over a secured and automated payment line. If a human calls customers and asks for sensitive financial information, it should be cause to believe that the individual is not a representative of Welsh Water.

Welsh Water have provided some advice to customers to make sure they do not fall victim of these scam callers. They are advising those who receive a call from someone claiming they’re from Welsh Water to ask for the caller’s number and call them back. If people do encounter a scam called, they are urged to contact Welsh Water on 0800 281 141 and report it to the police as well.

The warnings arrive after several people fell victim to the scam earlier this summer.

The Managing Director of Welsh Water’s customer service department, Julia Cherrett, says: “If customers are unsure about the identity of a person claiming to be from Welsh Water, either at the door or on the telephone, they can ring Welsh Water to confirm the caller’s identity. Genuine employees will not mind waiting while these checks are carried out. We urge all customers to be vigilant and for people to advise those they may feel could be vulnerable.”

Southern Water Making Water Meters Compulsory

southernwaterSouthern Water is starting to make water meters compulsory for customers who sign up for the utility provider’s services. It is a move that is being considered by many of major water suppliers as well such as Thames Water and South East Water.

There is an estimation from water industry experts that 50 per cent of homes will have these water meters by next spring. Many families will be pleased with this news. Information shows that water meters are cutting the cost of a great many of customers’ bills.

However, while 62 per cent of homes are having better results with water meters, there are currently 38 per cent who are seeing the bills rise. Some have even seen their prices double since installing a water meter.

One of these families is the Phippens from Hedge End in Southampton. Mark Phippen told the BBC that his family’s bills had gone up from £387 to £763 a year since they had a water meter installed.

Mark Phippen said: “We knew it would go up, but doubling the amount we pay was a bit of a shock. It has an impact on our budgeting every month and it will cause us problems.”

Nevertheless, Southern Water’s director of communications hopes that that things will generally improve for water consumers with their drive to have meters installed in every home.

Geoff Loader said: “You don’t go to a garage and fill up an articulated lorry, and pay the same amount for your petrol as a family in a saloon. We pay for what we use, and we are bringing that in for water use.”

United Utilities Commits To Smart Power

smartenergyUnited Utilities is hoping to lead the way on smart power. The company has committed to an energy management system that can manages in response to the demand for electricity in the United Kingdom. The idea is that instead of turning power stations up and down, the technology automatically switch on and off in anticipation of momentary peaks in demand.

Andy Pennick, who is the energy manager at United Utilities, explained the process. He said: “When everyone gets up after watching the Great British Bake Off to switch the kettle on, some of our pumps go off automatically to free up the power. That might only be for a few minutes, then they can restart again. We have a lot of tanks and water storage within our processes, so we can be flexible about precisely when we use our pumps. The lower operating costs are good news for our customers.”

The technology, known as Dynamic Demand, will rely on renewable energy sources only as they are more intermittent than traditional gas and coal energy. This is not going to be much of an issue however as many of these traditional energy sources are being faded out.

United Utilities tested the new technology at two of their waste water treatment plans as well as one of their water pumping stations. Having been pleased by the results, United Utilities has now committed to the plan for the long-term. It will begin rolling out the technology across the North West over the next 12 months.

10 MW of energy will be available within these 12 months and there will be a total of 50 MW over the next five years. This will be the equivalent of a standard power station. It will generate an income of around £5 million for United Utilities which will be reinvested to reduce the costs of operation. Some of the money will also be invested in generating even more renewable energy with wind turbines, solar panels and much more being installed at treatment plants in the United Kingdom.

The company responsible to building the Dynamic Demand technology, Open Energi, believes its value will be around £1 billion by 2020.

Southern Electric Engineering Works Continue After Safety Concerns

engineeringA power cut affected several streets in Tadley, Newbury over the summer. Several homes located on Pamber Heath Road, Rowan Road and West Street suffered outages on Monday 11th August.

Southern Electric has confirmed that the problem stemmed from a cable fault that occurred at Digital Design Agency at West Street’s End House. People on social media reported that the utility company was digging at least six feet into the road and looking for the cable.

The power cut lasted way into the afternoon with electricity only returning to homes at around 3pm. The outage affected over one hundred customers.

Lisa Marchi, a spokesperson for the provider Southern Electric, apologised for the inconvenience while workers found the fault with the underground cable.

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