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LONDRES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Offrant un autre exemple de ses solutions innovantes au sein d'un marché GNL en pleine croissance, Koch Supply & Trading (KS&T) a annoncé aujourd'hui l'achèvement du premier de nombreux transferts de GNL de navire à navire (Ship to Ship, STS) réguliers avec la société chinoise privée JOVO et l'armateur malaisien MISC. Cet accord est unique en son genre pour KS&T, JOVO et MISC, et représente le premier transfert de GNL de STS au Philippines. Puisque les transferts de GNL de STS dépassent le cadre habituel d'un rôle opérationnel, ce projet représente un jalon commercial clé alors que le transfert récurrent de STS démontre le potentiel commercial de ces activités. De telles opérations créent de nouveaux marchés pour les exportateurs et offrent des nouvelles sources d'approvisionnement à ceux nécessitant du GNL. Dans cet exemple, le navire-mère effectue le chargement de sa cargaison en Australie avant de la transférer vers un second navire plus petit dans la baie de Subic aux Philippines. L'opération est soigneusement gérée par Teekay Marine Solutions, avec Teekay et MISC offrant leur vaste expérience GNL pour administrer un transfert sécurisé et couronné de succès. La cargaison est ensuite livrée dans le terminal chinois de JOVO où elle sera distribuée par camion vers l'un des nombreux clients industriels ou commerciaux dans le Sud de la Chine. «  Ce partenariat entre des armateurs de première classe, des fournisseurs de services STS chefs de file du secteur et des consommateurs de GNL innovants permettent aux sociétés dans les marchés en développement d'accéder aux volumes internationaux et à une plus large sélection d'acteurs en logistique et infrastructure », a déclaré Peter Leoni, directeur des transactions pour Koch Supply & Trading. «  Lorsqu'on observe le développement du marché de GNL », a poursuivi Tim Mendelssohn, chef d'exploitation et du fret GNL chez Koch Supply & Trading, «  nous remettons en cause le modèle commercial existant comme agent orienté solutions et de résolution de problèmes pour les transferts de GNL de navire à navire au sein des économies émergentes du monde entier, réduisant ainsi les barrières à l'importation ». Les sociétés de Koch Supply & Trading du monde entier sont impliquées dans le commerce de pétrole brut, de produits pétroliers raffinés, de gaz liquide, de gaz naturel, de gaz naturel liquéfié, d'énergie, d'émissions et d'énergies renouvelables et de métaux. Les sociétés comptent des négociants, des initiateurs ou du personnel en marketing à Wichita, Houston, New York, Londres, Genève, Singapour et Shanghai. Pour en savoir plus, consultez le site www.ksandt.com. JOVO Group Co., Ltd. Guangdong est une société chinoise privée, fondée en 1990 ayant démarré ses transactions de GPL. Au cours des 25 dernières années, JOVO est devenue une entreprise énergétique chef de file du secteur, axée sur les énergies propres, comme le GPL, GNL et le DEM. Elle est impliquée tout au long de la chaîne d'approvisionnement industrielle, notamment les acquisitions internationales, le stockage, le traitement, la production, la logistique et les ventes. JOVO Group possède actuellement un terminal de réception entièrement opérationnel dans le delta de la rivière des Perles, en Chine, et peut stocker et distribuer du GNL, GPL, du méthanol, du pétrole et plusieurs types de produits pétroliers et gaziers. En dehors des grandes entreprises pétrolières, le projet de GNL de JOVO est le premier et le seul terminal à financement privé en Chine en service. Obtenez de plus amples informations en consultant le site www.jovo.com.cn. MISC Berhad (MISC) a été constitué en 1968 et est un fournisseur international chef de file de solutions et services maritimes associés à l'énergie. Nous sommes fiers de la fiabilité de nos services et actifs, de notre engagement pour assurer la conformité aux plus hautes normes de santé, sécurité et de l’environnement (SSE), par la favorisation d’une culture d'excellence au sein de nos employés, par l’exploitation de nos activités de manière responsable et par notre respect de l'environnement ainsi que par l’engendrement d’un impact positif dans les communautés au sein desquelles nous opérons. Les entreprises principales du Groupe comprennent l'expédition de l'énergie et ses activités connexes, la propriété et l'exploitation de solutions flottantes offshore, la conversion et la réparation maritimes, les travaux de construction et d'ingénierie, les services relatifs au port et au terminal, ainsi que la formation et l'éducation maritime. La flotte du MISC Group comprend plus de 110 navires de produits et produits pétroliers, de GNL affrétés et en propriété ; ainsi que 14 installations flottantes. La flotte possède une capacité combinée d'environ 12 millions tpl. Depuis 2014, nous sommes honorés d'être inclus dans l'indice FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia, témoignage de notre performance de durabilité et de fortes pratiques environnementales, sociétales et de gouvernance (Environmental, Social and Governance, ESG). Teekay Marine Solutions (sous la marque de LNGSTS) est détenue à 100% par Teekay Tankers. C'est un fournisseur de services de STS chef de file du secteur, comprenant un service axé sur le GNL et spécialisé dans les transferts de GNL, le développement de projets, le conseil et la gestion de terminaux et d'installations. Teekay Marine Solutions a acquis ses connaissances des opérations de terminal et de transferts de GNL de navire à navire en participant à de nombreux unités flottantes de stockage et de re-gaséification (Floating Storage Regasification Units, FSRU) et unités flottantes de stockage (Floating Storage Units, FSU)/FSRU parmi les plus innovants du monde entier.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people face annual energy bill rises of hundreds of pounds this month when they are rolled on to default energy tariffs that came under fire from Theresa May this week. If billpayers fail to take action when a series of fixed tariffs come to an end in May, they face hikes of as much as 55%, or £416 a year, in the case of challenger company First Utility. Consumer group Which? found a total of 17 fixed deals from 10 suppliers expire this month, including a £396 jump for customers with SSE, £373 for Scottish Power, £358 with EDF and £236 with Npower. The smallest increase is the £79 extra that people on another Scottish Power fixed tariff will pay when moved on to the company’s standard variable tariff. About two-thirds of people – 17 million – are on standard variable tariffs, which the Conservatives promised to cap, although they have been unable to promise bills will not still rise. The increases this month are not directly connected to May’s threat of a price cap, but are indicative of the gaps between the best and worst deals available. Comparison site uSwitch recently identified 16 tariffs that expired in April, causing bills to go by as much as £414. Pete Moorey, the head of campaigns at Which?, said: “It shows really for us some of the critical issues that need to be addressed with a price cap. With the cap, we would be concerned about people coming off fixed deals and going on to a standard variable tariff, and thinking ‘that’s now been capped, therefore I sam safe to sit on it’, but still paying a premium.” Moorey said Which? could not support the cap until the government had met five criteria that the consumer group had set out, including ensuring that short-term price reductions are not offset by increases over the long term. The group also said the next government should ensure any price cap does not harm competition, customer service or innovation such as the smart meter rollout and time-of-day tariffs. Which? also urged ministers to ensure a cap is time-limited, in a similar way to a ceiling imposed in April for pre-payment meter households, who are used mostly by more vulnerable customers. Moorey said that from what he had seen so far of the Tory policy, it seemed prices could go still go up. “If six months on [energy regulator] Ofgem looks at it, and there are shifts in wholesale prices and changes to government policy that are increasing costs, then the regulator could review it and change prices over time.” Separately, the Begbies Traynor consultancy said it had found “significant” financial distress among UK gas and electricity producers and suppliers in the first three months of the year, partly because warmer-than-expected weather had suppressed energy consumption.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

RIMOUSKI, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - May 10, 2017) - Puma Exploration Inc. (TSX VENTURE:PUM)(SSE:PUMA) (the "Company" or "Puma") is to begin its initial Exploration Program on the Murray Brook Project located in the famous Bathurst mining camp of northern New Brunswick, Canada. Puma has received all necessary permits to proceed with the projected work program which includes a first phase reconnaissance operation followed by trenching, stripping and drilling operations. The Murray Brook Project consists of three (3) distinct contiguous areas that cover more than 18 kilometers of the favorable rock hosting the operating Caribou Mine (Trevali Mining Corporation), the Murray Brook Deposit and the past operating Restigouche Mine. From east to west, they are the Murray Brook East Property (4925), The Murray Brook Mining Lease (# 252) and the newly acquired Murray Brook West Property (7846). These areas have been subject to various degrees of exploration work but share the same potential to increase the mineral resources defined at the Murray Brook Deposit. The Murray Brook East Property (4925) consists of 245 claims (5326 Hectares). Its eastern boundary is contiguous to the Caribou Mining Lease (# 246) and is located only four kilometres west of the producing Caribou mine owned and operated by Trevali Mining Corp. The previous operators of the Murray Brook Property conducted extensive preliminary exploration work from 2012 to 2015 which included geophysical surveys (Magnetic-Electromagnetic-Gravity) and geochemical surveys (soils) to bring the property to drill-ready targets. The surveys identified 5 first priority targets to be explored. The previous drilling operation along the 7 km long favorable horizon was conducted in 1956 and included only 10 short holes. The Murray Brook Mining Lease is located in the center of the area of interest and hosts the Murray Brook Deposit. The underground sulphide mineral resource estimate of the Murray Brook Deposit comprises measured and indicated mineral resources totalling 5.28 million tonnes averaging 5.24 per cent zinc, 1.80 per cent lead, 0.46 per cent copper, 68.9 grams per tonne silver and 0.65 g/t gold. It contains 610 million pounds of zinc, 209 million pounds of lead, 54 million pounds of copper, 11.7 million ounces of silver and 111,000 ounces of gold at an $85 per-tonne net-smelter-return cut-off in the sulphide measured and indicated categories. On February 20th 2017, the NI 43-101 report was accepted and filed on SEDAR. After reviewing the current drill hole database, Puma's geologists have defined first priority targets to verify the extension of the deposit along strike and also at depth. An EM survey defined 2 geophysical anomalies to be tested as well. On the south-west side of the deposit, a previous hole drilled in 2012 intersected 5.26% cu over 9.75 meters at the outer edge of the deposit and is open to the south. The Murray Brook West Property recently acquired by map staking contains 86 claims (1,870 Hectares). It is located west and contiguous to the Murray Brook Deposit Mining lease toward the past operating Restigouche Mine over a strike length of six (6) kilometers. It covers drill-ready targets contained within a similar geological setting as the one of the Murray Brook Deposit. Puma's geologists are currently compiling the data to prioritize those surface targets. Concurrent with the field work program, Puma is working on an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on its Murray Brook Deposit. The updated PEA will assess the best means of extracting mineralization and will place a capital expenditure figure on the project. Different mining scenarios are possible at Murray Brook, as the deposit starts at surface and goes at depth to 300 meters, and the higher grade sulphide zone is located between 200-300 meters deep. Puma's engineer is proceeding with the review and the evaluation of different metallurgy reports previously done on the Murray Brook Deposit to define the best flowsheet to be applied at the Murray Brook Deposit in order to enhance the recovery of polymetallic sulphide mineralization but also to evaluate the potential Cu-Rich oxide zone located at the top of the deposit which should improve the economics of the entire in situ mineralization. Puma Exploration is a Canadian mineral exploration company with advanced precious and base metals projects in Canada. The Company's major assets are the 100% per-cent beneficial interest in the Murray Brook Property, the Turgeon Zinc-Copper Project, the Nicholas-Denys Project in New Brunswick and an equity interest in Black Widow Resources related to the Little Stull Lake Gold Project in Manitoba. Puma's objective for the coming year is to focus its exploration efforts in New Brunswick. You can visit us on Facebook and Twitter. Learn more by consulting www.explorationpuma.com for further information on Puma Exploration Inc. The contents of this press release were prepared by Marcel Robillard, P.Geo., a Qualified Person as defined in NI 43-101. Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. Forward-Looking Statements: This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Puma Exploration Inc. to be materially different from actual future results and achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements which speak only as of the date the statements were made, except as required by law. Puma Exploration undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties are described in the quarterly and annual reports and in the documents submitted to the securities administration.


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 11, 2017) - Capstone Infrastructure Corporation (TSX:CSE.PR.A) (the "Corporation") today reported results for the quarter ended March 31, 2017. The Corporation's 2017 Management's Discussion and Analysis and unaudited interim consolidated financial statements are available at www.capstoneinfrastructure.com and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. All amounts are in Canadian dollars. Capstone's activity in the first quarter of 2017 included producing enough eligible power to receive $3.7 million in government grant funding at Whitecourt, Capstone's biomass facility, as well as ongoing discussions with BC Hydro for a new Electricity Purchase Agreement ("EPA") for the Sechelt Creek hydro facility. On March 1, 2017, Capstone entered into a facility agreement for the Sechelt Creek hydro facility with the shíshálh Nation, which will result in minority equity ownership by the shíshálh Nation and profit sharing for the project. In addition, the Settler's Landing wind facility achieved commercial operations on April 5, 2017 and Capstone sold its interest in the Värmevärden district heating utilities business and repatriated the proceeds. The proceeds from the Värmevärden sale were used to satisfy the promissory note held by Irving Infrastructure Corp. ("Irving"), as well as return capital to Irving, the common shareholder. Furthermore, litigation proceedings with the Ontario Electricity Financial Corporation (the "OEFC") concluded on January 19, 2017. During the first quarter of 2017, revenue increased by $8.9 million, or 26%, due to contributions from new wind facilities constructed in 2016, as well as from the government grants earned by Whitecourt. The increase was partially offset by decreased revenue from the hydro and solar facilities, as well as from the pre-existing wind facilities. Expenses decreased by $5.2 million, or 26%, primarily due to lower staff costs and professional fees associated with the acquisition by Irving, a subsidiary of iCON Infrastructure Partners III, L.P. ("iCON III"), in 2016. This decrease was partially offset by higher expenses for the new wind facilities. EBITDA in the quarter increased by $20.3 million, or 231%, mainly reflecting the factors noted above. Net income increased by $113.2 million, primarily due to a $128.1 million gain from the sale of Värmevärden. The increase was partially offset by the 2016 contributions from Bristol Water, which Capstone sold in December 2016. As at March 31, 2017, the Corporation had unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of $58.2 million, including $35.5 million at the power segment which is accessible to Capstone through distributions and $22.7 million in total cash and cash equivalents available for general corporate purposes. In addition, Capstone was in a net current liability position of $10.2 million. The deficit mainly results from a $40.5 million increase in the current portion of long-term debt, including a $12.5 million increase in upcoming payments for the the Capstone Power Corp. ("CPC") credit facility, as well as $38.3 million in project debt at Sky Generation LP. Capstone is evaluating options to refinance the Sky Generation LP debt balances maturing in February 2018. Further, Capstone expects to repay the CPC debt from future operating cash flows, as per the terms of the credit facility. On April 1, 2017, Andrew Kennedy was appointed as Chief Financial Officer of Capstone and as a member of the board of directors. Michael Smerdon, Capstone's outgoing Chief Financial Officer, remains on Capstone's board of directors. Mr. Smerdon assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer of iCON Infrastructure Canada Inc. ("iCON Canada"), a subsidiary of iCON Infrastructure LLP and related party to Capstone. Mr. Smerdon leads the activities of iCON Canada and is responsible for driving investments and growth across Canada and the United States. On May 10, 2017, Paul Smith was appointed as a member of Capstone's board of directors. Mr. Smith, who was previously the non-executive chairman of CPC, brings a breadth of operations experience to the board. He has served as Managing Director, Generation at SSE plc (formerly known as Scottish & Southern Energy PLC) and is currently a non-executive director of Scottish Water. He also operates an independent consultancy business, PRS Energy Solutions Ltd. The board of directors today declared a quarterly dividend on the Corporation's Cumulative Five-Year Rate Reset Preferred Shares, Series A (the "Preferred Shares") of $0.2044 per Preferred Share to be paid on or about July 28, 2017 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 14, 2017. The dividend on the Preferred Shares covers the period from April 30, 2017 to July 30, 2017. The dividends paid by the Corporation on its Preferred Shares are designated "eligible" dividends for the purposes of the Income Tax Act (Canada). An enhanced dividend tax credit applies to eligible dividends paid to Canadian residents. Capstone's mission is to provide investors with an attractive total return from responsibly managed long-term investments in power generation in North America. The Corporation's strategy is to develop, acquire and manage a portfolio of high quality power facilities that operate in a contractually-defined environment and generate stable cash flow. Capstone currently owns, operates and develops thermal and renewable power generation facilities in North America with a total installed capacity of net 509 megawatts. Please visit www.capstoneinfrastructure.com for more information. Certain of the statements contained within this document are forward-looking and reflect management's expectations regarding the future growth, results of operations, performance and business of Capstone Infrastructure Corporation (the "Corporation") based on information currently available to the Corporation. Forward-looking statements are provided for the purpose of presenting information about management's current expectations and plans relating to the future and readers are cautioned that such statements may not be appropriate for other purposes. These statements use forward-looking words, such as "anticipate", "continue", "could", "expect", "may", "will", "intend", "estimate", "plan", "believe" or other similar words, and include, among other things, statements found in "Results of Operations" and "Financial Position Review". These statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements and, accordingly, should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results. The forward-looking statements within this document are based on information currently available and what the Corporation currently believes are reasonable assumptions, including the material assumptions set out in the management's discussion and analysis of the results of operations and the financial condition of the Corporation ("MD&A") for the year ended December 31, 2016 under the headings "Changes in the Business", "Results of Operations" and "Financial Position Review", as updated in subsequently filed MD&A of the Corporation (such documents are available under the Corporation's SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com). Other potential material factors or assumptions that were applied in formulating the forward-looking statements contained herein include or relate to the following: that the business and economic conditions affecting the Corporation's operations will continue substantially in their current state, including, with respect to industry conditions, general levels of economic activity, regulations, weather, taxes and interest rates; that the preferred shares will remain outstanding and that dividends will continue to be paid on the preferred shares; that there will be no material delays in the Corporation's wind development projects achieving commercial operation; that the Corporation's power infrastructure facilities will experience normal wind, hydrological and solar irradiation conditions, and ambient temperature and humidity levels; that there will be no material changes to the Corporation's facilities, equipment or contractual arrangements; that there will be no material changes in the legislative, regulatory and operating framework for the Corporation's businesses; that there will be no material delays in obtaining required approvals for the Corporation's power infrastructure facilities; that there will be no material changes in environmental regulations for the power infrastructure facilities; that there will be no significant event occurring outside the ordinary course of the Corporation's businesses; the refinancing on similar terms of the Corporation's and its subsidiaries' various outstanding credit facilities and debt instruments which mature during the period in which the forward-looking statements relate; that the conversion rights pursuant to the convertible debenture issued in connection with the Grey Highlands ZEP wind facility, the Ganaraska wind facility, the Snowy Ridge wind facility and the Settlers Landing wind facility are exercised; market prices for electricity in Ontario and the amount of hours that Cardinal is dispatched; the price that Whitecourt will receive for its electricity production considering the market price for electricity in Alberta, the impact of renewable energy credits, and Whitecourt's agreement with Millar Western, which includes sharing mechanisms regarding the price received for electricity sold by the facility; and the re-contracting of the power purchase agreement ("PPA") for Sechelt. Although the Corporation believes that it has a reasonable basis for the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements, actual results may differ from those suggested by the forward-looking statements for various reasons, including: risks related to the Corporation's securities (controlling shareholder, dividends on common shares and preferred shares are not guaranteed; and volatile market price for the Corporation's securities); risks related to the Corporation and its businesses (availability of debt and equity financing; default under credit agreements and debt instruments; geographic concentration; foreign currency exchange rates; acquisitions, development and integration; environmental, health and safety; changes in legislation and administrative policy; and reliance on key personnel); and risks related to the Corporation's power infrastructure facilities (market price for electricity; power purchase agreements; completion of the Corporation's wind development projects; operational performance; contract performance and reliance on suppliers; land tenure and related rights; environmental; and regulatory environment). For a comprehensive description of these risk factors, please refer to the "Risk Factors" section of the Corporation's Annual Information Form dated March 24, 2017, as supplemented by disclosure of risk factors contained in any subsequent annual information form, material change reports (except confidential material change reports), business acquisition reports, interim financial statements, interim management's discussion and analysis and information circulars filed by the Corporation with the securities commissions or similar authorities in Canada (which are available under the Corporation's SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com). The assumptions, risks and uncertainties described above are not exhaustive and other events and risk factors could cause actual results to differ materially from the results and events discussed in the forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements within this document reflect current expectations of the Corporation as at the date of this document and speak only as at the date of this document. Except as may be required by applicable law, the Corporation does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. This document is not an offer or invitation for the subscription or purchase of or a recommendation of securities. It does not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any investors. Before making an investment in the Corporation, an investor or prospective investor should consider whether such an investment is appropriate to their particular investment needs, objectives and financial circumstances and consult an investment adviser if necessary.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Theresa May will face a battle within her own party as well as with the energy companies if she decides to go ahead with a cap on gas and electricity prices. A number of Tory MPs favouring free market policies, including some at senior ministerial level, feel the plan is far too interventionist for a Conservative government, and are aiming to water down the proposal in the next parliament. The MPs are not breaking cover with direct criticism during the election campaign, but some are openly pushing for a more “relative” cap – which would link standard tariffs to the cheapest deals by capping the differential between the highest and lowest price an energy company can charge. John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare and a former minister, said the Conservatives would stop rip-off energy prices but argued a relative cap was the way forward rather than a fixed upper limit. “We need to make the energy market more competitive, so the customer is king and big business fat cats can’t take us for granted,” he said. “The only way to do this – without distorting the market – is by imposing a temporary relative price cap to protect all customers who forget to switch at the end of their contracts. “It would limit the maximum mark-up the big six could impose so competition would be red-hot and the rip-offs would stop.” It is understood some MPs are hoping that the language in the manifesto will be vague enough to keep both options open and allow for a proper consultation in the next parliament. Labour promised that is energy policy would go much further than protecting the 17 million people on standard variable tariffs. “Unlike the Tories’ half-baked cap which only deals with some people, Labour policies will help people on every tariff,” a spokesman said. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who promised a price freeze in 2013 and has accused the Conservatives of hypocrisy for adopting a policy they previously attacked as “Marxist”, said the Tories could not promise voters their bills would not rise under the cap. “As far as I can tell, no guarantee that energy prices won’t rise next year under Tory policy. Is that right? Asking for a friend,” he taunted the business secretary, Greg Clark, on Twitter. Clark did not reply. Industry experts also warned that household energy bills will continue to rise regardless of May’s pledge to cap default electricity and gas tariffs. The Conservatives have claimed their price cap on standard variable tariffs would save 17 million families around £80 to £90 a year, or as much as £100 in some cases. However, energy analysts said that people would see their bills go up by £50 a year because of increasing energy policy and network costs that are already locked in over the course of the next parliament. “Administering the price cap therefore risks being tantamount to signing off bill increases for the industry,” said Cornwall Energy. The group also cautioned that millions of consumers who had engaged in the market could see their bills rise “significantly”, as suppliers hiked up prices on their better-value fixed deals. Damian Green, the work and pensions minister, recently said that energy regulator Ofgem would cap standard variable tariffs “in relation to what the market price is”. That would imply that if wholesale prices continue creeping up, as they have in Ofgem’s cost supplier index, bills will go up despite the cap. When the Guardian asked if this would guarantee household bills would not be higher in a year, the Conservative party failed to respond. May also refused to confirm at a stump speech on Tuesday whether bills would definitely go down, and would only say that Ofgem would set the cap. The prime minister would not be drawn on whether some cabinet ministers opposed the price cap policy. Iain Conn, the chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, which saw its share price slide 1.58% on Tuesday after the policy was confirmed, suggested there might yet be some sops for the industry when the final detail was revealed. “We have to remember we haven’t actually seen the policy yet, as someone senior in government reminded me not so long ago, so we have to keep a cool head,” he said. Five of the big six suppliers – British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, SSE and ScottishPower – have raised prices over the winter, which ministers have said showed there was justification for intervention. Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of the trade body Energy UK, accused the Conservatives of “giving up on competition”. “Further intervention risks undermining so many of the positive changes we are seeing in the market which are delivering benefits for consumers,” he said. German-owned E.ON also expressed alarm at the prospect of price caps, as the company reported profits being down by a third for the first quarter of the year. “Intervention by government will harm investor confidence at a time when the country requires significant investment to deliver energy security and the low carbon agenda,” it said in a statement. The business group CBI said a cap could hit investor confidence. Josh Hardie, its deputy director general, said: “A major market intervention, such as a price cap, could lead to unintended consequences, for example, dampening consumers’ desire to find the best deal on the market and hitting investor confidence.”


News Article | May 11, 2017
Site: www.techrepublic.com

Intel has backed some notable companies over the years - investing in Red Hat and VMware - two firms that helped effect major shifts in the IT industry. The chipmaker is hoping Cloudera will generate similar momentum in the field of big-data analytics, and in doing so open new avenues for growth in a stagnant enterprise IT market. To this end Intel has invested $740m in Cloudera, giving it an 18 percent stake in the company. Cloudera builds and supports tools to run on top of Apache Hadoop, the open-source software framework that allows data to be processed by clusters of commodity hardware for data warehousing and big-data analytics. Cloudera's distribution of Hadoop (CDH) and its subscription offering, Cloudera Enterprise, include various integrated tools to help businesses store and analyse data in Hadoop clusters, offering improved security and availability. Cloudera provides software to support real-time SQL and search-engine queries, machine learning, security, and stream and batch data processing, as well as to manage Hadoop clusters. The firm is one of several competing to offer the Hadoop distribution of choice for businesses. Each of the companies behind major Hadoop distributions - Hortonworks, IBM, MapR and Pivotal - provides different tools to manage, secure and exploit data stored on Hadoop clusters. But usage figures indicate that Cloudera's distribution is the most popular. Intel had released its own distribution of Hadoop but this will now be withdrawn. Intel engineers will instead work on Cloudera's distro, which will be enhanced with features from Intel's platform. While analysts estimate that Cloudera's paying user base may be tiny at present - about 350-strong and growing at about 50 new customers per quarter - Intel said it is buying into future potential. "It's not really a technology play but it really is about overall business value. If you look at Intel's datacentre business over the past few years, the cloud service provider segment, the telecommunications and even the high-performance computing segments have all grown quite handsomely. But the enterprise segment has been a little bit stagnant," Boyd Davis, general manager of Intel's datacentre software division, said. "What you see with big data is a different phenomenon occurring. It's injecting more investment into the IT world because there's such huge business value that gets derived from it, and that's the way I expect to see dramatic growth in our business." But why did Intel decide against exploiting that growth with its own Hadoop distribution and instead chose to back Cloudera? Davis said Intel wanted to boost Cloudera's already strong standing in the Hadoop market and reassure companies unsure which distribution to deploy that Cloudera will be a good long-term investment. "The Hadoop ecosystem is still relatively nascent, when you compare it with the $100bn data-management market, and it's really important for us to take the risk out for customers," he said. "Enterprises like to know this is the right path, so they don't have to sit on the sidelines and wait to see how the market plays out. That was important for us as well because we want to see this market grow." Intel's is now Cloudera's largest strategic investor, defined by Cloudera as investors where there is "alignment between corporate initiatives". The $740m investment by Intel was preceded by a cash injection of $160m into Cloudera by a variety of firms, including Google's investment arm. About 60 percent of the combined $900m investment will end up in Cloudera's pockets, according to Cloudera CEO Tom Reilly, as some of the money will go to existing investors in Cloudera. "We've raised more than half a billion dollars that goes into Cloudera," Reilly said. Initially, Cloudera will use the funding to help organisations move from Intel's Hadoop distribution to its own. "We're hiring up engineers on our side to interface and integrate with Intel's engineering team, so we have the staff to support the partnership on the technical side of things," Reilly said. "We're going to be transitioning all Intel customers to our new distribution, which combines the best of our distributions." Reilly sees the partnership with Intel as a springboard to accelerate its ambitions for global expansion. "Intel has a tremendous presence in China and India. The next thing we're going to do is to staff up and build up resources in those geographies to support the customers and continue to grow those big markets." Both firms plan to increase their contributions to open-source projects related to Hadoop, with Reilly expressing interest in projects focused on in-memory processing, such as Apache Spark, and security. Finally, the company will also use the money to help it acquire companies, "to accelerate our growth", according to Reilly. The company still plans to go public but Reilly said it is not "setting an expectation" as to when an IPO might occur. Unsurprisingly, Intel's investment will result in engineers from both companies focusing on optimising Cloudera's toolset, as well as the core open-source Hadoop platform, to run on Intel's 64-bit x86 chip architecture. "Hadoop will continue to work on all platforms, but the optimisations will occur on Intel sooner and faster," Reilly said. "Intel has 94 percent market share in the datacentre. We believe the Intel platform is going to outperform other platforms." The stance is something of a departure from a public statement made by a co-founder of Cloudera last year, when the company's CTO praised low-power ARM chips for being more efficient than competing silicon from other companies. In a discussion about ARM-based processors at the time, Cloudera co-founder and CTO Amr Awadallah was reported as saying: "Cores from other vendors - without saying their name - consume significantly more power in the idle state, hence we're relieved that ARM is moving into this space." Intel and Cloudera have a "multi-year roadmap" of features in Intel hardware that will be exploited by Cloudera's distribution of Hadoop, and Intel's Davis said the first fruits of this collaboration are likely to be revealed in the near future. "A really good example of one of the areas where we are collaborating that will show up in Cloudera products very soon is around hardware-accelerated security," he said. "In our own distribution we took advantage of instructions in the Xeon chip that accelerate encryption, so that customers could encrypt the data in a Hadoop environment without necessarily having the performance overhead of many of the solutions out there. "We had that intimate knowledge of the instructions that could accelerate the security algorithms. We built that into our distribution and are actively working to get that into Cloudera's product as quickly as we can." When Intel launched its own Hadoop distribution last year, it promised that extensions to instruction sets in its chips would boost performance in various ways: improving data encryption speed via AES-NI and compression using AVX and SSE 4.2. Various optimisations from Intel's Hadoop distribution will begin to be incorporated into CDH, following the release of version 3.1 of the Intel distro, the final outing for the platform. Reilly said the firms' engineering collaboration and the absorption of Intel's distribution into Cloudera's platform will yield enhancements to Cloudera's offering "not just five years from now but in the coming months". Davis expects the bulk of the collaboration between the companies will be on improvements to the open-source, core Hadoop platform, but added they will also work to improve Cloudera's proprietary tools on top of Hadoop. "It's one of our fundamental objectives to maintain an open ecosystem, and Intel's going to continue to do engineering work and contribute to the open-source community," Davis said. "We'll also continue to innovate in some of the areas around Hadoop that are not open source, on things like the management and data governance that are around Hadoop but not in the core platform. A lot of people have unique technologies there, and we will work with Cloudera on those." On rare occasions there may also be other considerations that prevent their combined engineering teams from open-sourcing technologies, he said. "There are certain cases where open source has some downsides. Security is an example. I don't have a specific example but sometimes you want to do something to take advantage of security capabilities in the chip that if you were to make open source would actually open up security holes. But the vast majority of the innovations that we drive are going to end up in open source." Reilly said there was a natural crossover between the capabilities of the Hadoop platform to handle large volumes of data and Intel's investment in the internet of things, which is expected to fuel an explosion in data collection and analytics.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Are millions of people really being ripped off by big energy companies charging unfair prices, as Theresa May claims? It depends on whether you think people should be responsible for seeking out the best deals on the market. If you’re one of the 1.8 million who switched electricity supplier in the past four months, you are probably paying about £900-£1,000 a year to light and heat your home. But the two-thirds – 17 million people – who are are sitting on the worst-value default deals, known as standard variable tariffs, will be paying about £200 more for the same energy. These are the tariffs that customers roll on to when their cheaper fixed deals come to an end, and they are the reason for customers overpaying by more than £1bn in aggregate, according to government research. The dominance and business model of the big six suppliers – British Gas, EDF, E.ON, Npower, SSE and ScottishPower – relies on this inertia. It is why the industry makes an average 5.6% profit margin from its customers. It is why, despite the outrage at prices being hiked by up to 10% this winter, the suppliers know millions of people will still not move to a better tariff, either through indifference, ignorance, lack of time or an inability to access the internet. An 18-month investigation by the competition watchdog was meant to fix all this. The Competitions and Markets Authority decided against a standard variable tariff price cap last year, preferring a series of “remedies” to encourage greater switching. Some of those, such as a pilot led by the regulator Ofgem on how best to communicate with customers, is under way. So the real question is not whether people are being ripped off, but what is the best solution? The Conservatives favour an absolute cap on standard variable tariffs, reset every six months by Ofgem. They reckon this will save the average family about £80-90 a year, or up to £100 in some cases. The problem is that the Tory fix is like giving in to a toddler having a tantrum. You save yourself some short-term grief, but you are not encouraging the sort of behaviour you want in the long-term. People who have not engaged with the energy market, and have ended up on standard variable tariff, will almost certainly be better off because of the Conservative cap. In that sense, it will work. But the best fixed-price deals will inevitably go up, to offset the suppliers’ losses. And that will punish everyone who took the time to switch tariff or supplier, after years of urging by ministers, the industry and comparison sites.


News Article | August 7, 2015
Site: www.theguardian.com

Nationalising the major power providers, as suggested by Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, could cost £185bn, according to leading City analysts. Following a report in the Financial Times in which Corbyn discusses an ambition to take control of the big energy companies, analysts at Jefferies stockbrokers concluded there would be a number of hurdles to this idea. They cite European Union law and stock exchange rules which require an offer for a whole company to be made once a shareholder owns 30% of the shares. The FT piece follows a report by Greenpeace about Corbyn’s proposals. Corbyn is quoted in the Financial Times (£) as saying: “I would want the public ownership of the gas and the National Grid … [and] I would personally wish that the big six were under public control, or public ownership in some form.” The MP for the London seat of Islington North since 1983 is attracting support for his leadership bid. Corbyn is said to want to take stakes in British Gas, SSE, E.ON, RWE npower, Scottish Power and EDF, as well as the National Grid. In the FT, Corbyn is quoted as saying: “You can do it by majority shareholding; you can do it by increased share sales, which are then bought by the government in order to give a controlling interest.” The Jefferies analysts said: “Such a policy would face many hurdles, such as compatibility with EU law, but if it was implemented how much might it cost? In his interview, Mr Corbyn suggests that the government could take a majority equity stake in the utility companies. However, under stock exchange rules, once a stock holding hits 30% an offer for the whole company must be made. Therefore, we assume that all of the equity would be acquired.” According to their analysis, the cost would amount to £185bn based on the entire market stock market value of the companies. But, they said: “If a future Labour government restricted itself to just acquiring the UK assets of the big six generators plus National Grid, the cost would be £124bn.” They assumed that the shares are bought at current prices and not at any higher price, which might be expected from a takeover, to calculate an enterprise value – the debt and equity – for the companies. For companies which are not directly listed on the market and are part of bigger groups – such as EDF or E.ON – the analysts have used valuations of just the UK operations.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Theresa May has said she still believes in free markets despite pledging to cap energy prices, after it was pointed out her party had dismissed a similar plan put forward by Ed Miliband as “Marxist”. The Conservatives are proposing a price cap on standard variable tariffs, to be set by the energy regulator, Ofgem. The policy follows a recommendation from a minority report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which found that customers had collectively been forced to pay £1.4bn a year in “excessive prices”. When Labour proposed a policy to freeze prices for 20 months in 2013, David Cameron accused Miliband, then the party’s leader, of wanting to live in a “Marxist universe”. Speaking at a campaign event in the Labour-held seat of York Central on Tuesday, May denied she wanted to live in that universe. “First of all, we are Conservatives,” she said to a hall of Tory candidates and activists. “We believe in free markets and competition, but we want to see competition working. The competition authority has shown that customers at the six largest energy suppliers in a year are paying £1.4bn more than they would do if it was a truly competitive market.” She added: “Ed Miliband didn’t propose a cap on energy prices. Ed Miliband suggested a freeze on energy prices that would have frozen them so people paying above the odds would have continued to pay above the odds, and crucially prices could not have gone down. Under our cap prices will go down.” She played down reports that the business secretary, Greg Clark, had opposed the energy cap. May said: “I think under [the] circumstances, it’s right, as does everybody sitting around the cabinet table, for governments to take action to support working families.” Talking later to factory workers in Leeds she refused to rule out bills going up under the plan. “I don’t think any government can ever promise that no bill is going to go up year on year,” the prime minister said. Earlier Clark had said the Conservative plans to control energy prices were not the same as those proposed by Miliband. Asked by BBC Breakfast whether the idea was an admission that Miliband’s policy was correct, Clark said: “No, that was a botched policy. They talked about a freeze, they even advertised it in a block of ice, and what happened after that was that the wholesale price of gas and electricity fell, and so if it had been introduced then people would have paid more than needed.” The confirmation of the price cap sparked an industry backlash and further falls in the share prices of energy companies. On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, it was pointed out to Clark that Labour eventually adapted its policy to a price cap but still faced Tory charges that energy supplies would be put at risk. Clark said: “Labour’s was a very crude policy. It was to directly intervene by politicians setting the tariffs. What we have responded to is a two-year investigation by the CMA that there is £1.4bn a year on average of over-charging.” In response to the point that the CMA only recommended a price cap for those paying through meters, Clark said: “They were in two minds about whether that should be extended beyond that. The minority report felt this was not going to remove that detriment to consumers quickly enough. We are taking the same approach that the CMA [did] to prepayment meters, but doing what the minority report said.” Clark conceded that the level of the cap would rise if wholesale gas prices increased. “If the price of gas goes up in world markets then of course you would expect that [the cap] to increase. If the price goes down, then you would expect the price to go down. That is why it is sensible to put it in the hands – and this is what the competition authority recommended for prepayment meters – of the regulator.” Tweeting following initial reports that the a price cap policy would be included in the Conservative party manifesto last month, Miliband criticised the Tories for putting forward a similar policy to his despite having shot his down at the time. On Tuesday he mocked Clark’s failure to rule out energy price rises, claiming he was speaking on behalf of a friend. Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of the trade body Energy UK, accused the Conservatives of “giving up on competition”. “Further intervention risks undermining so many of the positive changes we are seeing in the market which are delivering benefits for consumers,” he said. The share price of the British Gas owner, Centrica, was down 2.2% to £1.98 on Tuesday, the latest in a series of falls since May warned of intervention last October. Iain Conn, the company’s chief executive, blamed the government for the fall. “There is only one factor driving [the share price] to where it is, and that is the uncertainty about what the Conservative government might do to the energy supply market,” he said. The UK-listed SSE also saw its share price fall 1.3% after the Conservative announcement. Marc Spieker, the chief financial officer of E.ON, also expressed alarm at the prospect of price caps, as the German company reported profits being down by a third for the first quarter of the year. “The United Kingdom will remain a challenging market, as we have to expect additional interventionist policies,” he said. The business group CBI said a cap could hit investor confidence. Josh Hardie, its deputy director general, said: “A major market intervention, such as a price cap, could lead to unintended consequences, for example, dampening consumers’ desire to find the best deal on the market and hitting investor confidence.” Comparison sites, which rely on customers switching and would almost certainly be hit by a cap, said the policy risked backfiring and leaving consumers worse off. Richard Neudegg, the head of regulation at uSwitch, said: “Today’s pledge will ultimately kill competition, push up energy prices and leave consumers worse off.” But some of the “challenger” energy companies came out in support of an absolute price cap, along with the major consumer group Citizens Advice. Ovo, one of the biggest players outside the big six, called the move bold and ambitious. “The standard variable tariff cap will not harm consumers or competition, but act as a catalyst for innovation and efficiency amongst suppliers,” said its chief executive, Stephen Fitzpatrick. Octopus Energy, a small supplier with 90,000 customers, also backed the policy.


News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Whichever party wins on 8 June, Dermot Nolan will become one of the most powerful regulators in Britain. As head of the energy regulator Ofgem, the 51-year-old will control the price that millions of people pay for their electricity and gas after the general election. A Conservative victory would see Nolan tasked with setting a cap on how high default energy tariffs can go, in relation to the wholesale prices that suppliers have to pay. A surprise Labour win would require him to go further, imposing limits not just on those standard variable tariffs, but cheaper fixed deals as well. The fact that rising energy bills have climbed so far up the political agenda means the civil servant’s decisions will be scrutinised much more closely than when he joined Ofgem in 2014. Back then, the incoming chief executive was accused of flip-flopping at his debut in front of MPs, when he criticised energy companies’ profit margins for being too high, before later apologising and saying firms did need to earn a profit. Fast forward to February this year and Nolan was far more polished and implacable under a grilling from MPs, when he criticised the industry for what he saw as unjustified price rises over the winter and said he could impose a price cap if he was ordered to do so by politicians. Nolan’s big move so far has been to refer the energy market to the competition watchdog in 2014 to “clear the air” over accusations the big six suppliers – British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power – had been profiteering at consumers’ expense. But Theresa May decided that the results of that Competitions and Market Authority review – which favoured measures to increase switching, rather than a price cap – did not go far enough. Energy prices are just the most high profile of several challenges facing Nolan. His in-tray has included how power grids cope with the transition to cleaner but more variable power such as wind and solar, and stopping diesel generators scooping up too many financial benefits for providing backup power. Nolan is well-liked by those who have worked with him, with one energy industry source describing him as having a “consensual” approach to tackling issues. “There’s a good amount of access, and open and honest conversation,” the source said. A second senior industry figure called him a “decent man” who is keen to listen and engage but said there was a “question mark over whether Ofgem under Nolan’s stewardship has the teeth to do what is right for the consumer if it flies in the face of what No 10 wants”. Another said he was very committed, and not just because of salary of up to £195,000 he received in 2015/16. “He’s passionate about energy. I know that might sound nerdy but it’s an important industry: it’s an essential service, it’s not like regulating widgets,” the source said. The chief executive’s CV should see him well-equipped to deal with the challenges ahead. Before he crossed the Irish Sea to head Ofgem, Nolan worked for the independent Irish energy regulator, the Commission for Energy Regulation. Ironically, as chair there between 2011 and 2014, he oversaw the deregulation of the domestic energy market, ending the regulation of prices for householders. Earlier roles saw Nolan work as chief economist at the Irish communications regulator and manager of the mergers division at the country’s competition watchdog. Born in Ireland, he studied economics at Trinity College Dublin, and after graduating gained a PhD in economics at Yale, before lecturing at the University of London on market structures. A 22-year-old Nolan also penned an undergraduate essay that foresaw the problems he would face decades later. “I think that market failure is a major problem that cannot just be ignored, and thus for economics to be a useful discipline it will always need to be able to explain, and hopefully correct, market failure,” he wrote in a paper on Keynesian economics. Will he be able to correct an energy market that May has derided as broken? Nolan is seen as having been more successful than Alistair Buchanan, his predecessor, partly because of the action he took with the CMA review. He has also been the beneficiary of luckier timing. Wholesale prices slumped between 2014 and 2016, taking some of the political heat out of the public’s concerns over energy bills, before they began to creep up last winter. In January, Nolan reinstated an index to make the costs facing suppliers more transparent. While admitting their wholesale costs had edged up, he warned energy companies off hiking prices, saying: “At this point in time it is not obvious to us that there should be price rises.” His advice went unheeded. Five of the big six suppliers and dozens of smaller ones all cranked up their tariffs in the following months. But come June, whoever wins the election, Nolan should be bestowed with the power to disprove the old jibe that Ofgem is a “toothless tiger”.

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