“Renewable obligations” a burden for smaller UK renewable energy producers
“Renewable Energy Obligations”-The British scheme to increase the size of renewable energy component in the total energy consumption in the United Kingdom has come to cause undue distress to small renewable energy producers in the country as the life period of that scheme comes to a close. As many as fourteen of such renewable energy start-ups that had set shop taking advantage of the scheme have shut down so far. Not only has this put consumers of those companies in distress regarding the continuation in supply of electricity but it also puts to question, if the objectives set out when this scheme was introduced by the government have been met.
The office of Gas and Electricity markets (Ofgem), the electricity and gas supply regulator in the United Kingdom, regulates power and gas supplies to all consumers with the twin agenda of protecting the interests of the consumers and promoting competition among suppliers. In 2002 in order to promote the renewable energy usage in the United Kingdom, a scheme called Renewable Obligations (RO) was introduced by the government, to be implemented by Ofgem, whereby renewable energy companies were given a fixed rate support per (Megawatt Hour) MWh of renewable energy generated over a period of twenty years. The suppliers of electricity were obligated to source an increasing proportion of their inventory from such companies and also buy a Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) from them as proof. However, even after twenty years in operation, many of these renewable energy companies were not able to gain the required scale and margin to survive as a viable business entity.
Questions are now being raised about the very idea of the scheme and whether the implementation of the scheme fulfilled the objective of promoting the renewable energy industry in the United Kingdom. Below we have discussed five of the top companies of the total of fourteen companies that have since closed shop after the Renewable Obligations (RO) scheme’s validity period came to an end.
Solarplicity Supply Limited – It is a renewable power company based out of Hertfordshire in Britain. Founded in 2009 its interest is in solar energy generation and distribution. As of July 2019, the company had about 60,000 domestic consumers with its power distribution arm. However, the company has had a troubled relationship with these consumers with numerous customer support groups and industry watchdogs consistently criticizing its quality of services. The company faced problems with customer billing and refunds with as many as 3,423 complaints against it with Ofgem in 2019 alone.
The company faced regulatory action in February 2019, when Ofgem barred it from accepting any more customers. In July 2019 it sold 43,000 of its 60,000 customers to Toto energy, and finally, with the company going under administration on 23 July 2019, Ofgem put all its left-over customers with EDF energy as a supplier of last resort.
Brilliant Energy Supply Ltd – This company had a portfolio of 17,000 customers and ceased operations in January 2018. Its existing customers including those with a white label arrangement with Northumbria Energy had been transferred by Ofgem to a new supplier with full protection of the credit balances on their accounts with Brilliant Energy. The company had in September 2018 failed to meet its Renewable Obligation Payments before the deadline set by Ofgem.
Economy Energy Trading Limited – The company ceased trading on 8 January 2018, and its license was revoked on 12 January 2019. The company had failed to meet its Renewable Obligations (RO) payments, after which the regulatory action was initiated.
The company had as many as 235,000 customers, which were transferred to Ovo Energy by Ofgem as the supplier of last resort.
Spark Energy Ltd– This company had as many as 290,000 customers who were left in the lurch when the company went bust and stopped trading. Ofgem was quick to respond to transfer those customers to Ovo Energy as the supplier of last resort, with the former also failing to meet its dues under the Renewable Obligations (RO) to which it was obligated to. The company on its part blamed it on increasingly tough trading conditions and on the payment obligation of £14.4 million it owed the regulator Ofgem.
Extra Energy Supply Ltd. – This company had a large client base of 108,000 domestic and 21,000 business customers. Citing the reasons for its failure, the company’s chief executive Nick Read claimed that the company suffered because of the price cap on renewable energy tariffs that were introduced by Ofgem, which made the operations unviable.
The company’s erstwhile customers were transferred by Ofgem to Scottish Power Ltd.
Dawn of the Digital Age in Mental Health Counselling
The applications of Information technology in different spheres of human activities have been increasing leaps and bounds. The transformative effect that it has had on our everyday lives is unimaginable; be it personal communication, mass communication, entertainment, online purchasing or banking services, everything is now available on our fingertips. The latest innovation is in healthcare, in the field of mental health counselling, where virtual group therapies and even personal one to one counselling is available at the time and availability of the patient in need, whereby millions are being benefited who couldn’t be helped otherwise due to restriction of movement.
Counselling has emerged as one of the most important wellness therapies in practice today. From general mental health to education counselling to distress intervention, to post-traumatic counselling, to bereavement counselling and even behavioural modification therapies like anger management, are all now part of counselling. However, despite all the above different streams and sub-streams of practice, the need is still being felt for more, as stress and anxiety levels in our society has reached alarming proportions. These therapies, either in groups on individually with other forms of medication or in isolation, have proved to be extremely effective and helpful in treating a number of psychological as well as physiological issues.
There are a number of Organizations working around in this field who work for the mental wellbeing of people and provide the necessary training in this regard. American Counselling Association, American Mental Health Counsellor’s Association and National Board of Certified Counsellors are three of the most prominent organizations working in this field in the United States of America. In the United Kingdom, there are British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy, the National Counselling Society and UK Council of Psychotherapy who offer similar services.
The number of trained people required in this practice is also increasing by the day. The practice being extremely sensitive toward the convalescent (person recovering from illness or medical treatment), the standards of delivery has to be extremely high. There are four pillars of ethics that a practitioner must follow before he or she can converse or engage suitably with someone in need of counselling. Confidentiality – the counsellor, must always maintain the confidentiality of all conversations being made between him and the patients. Competence – the counsellor must have a qualification or a license demonstrating a certain level of competence of dealing with a suffering person before he tries to engage in the profession. Informed Consent – The counsellor must inform the subject-to-be of the nature of the relationship between him and the subject and process of the counselling before the start of a session. It is a practice that the consent is taken in writing, with appropriate disclosures being made by the counsellor also present on the document. Professional Boundaries – Between a Counsellor and the subject, there can be many instances when one may accidentally cross a personal or professional boundary which should otherwise never be breached under any circumstances. The counsellor must be mindful of that and conduct his or her practice accordingly. In the United States, these ethics are codified and implemented across all counsellors working across the country by the American Counselling Association.
New centres are being added every day across cities in almost all parts of the developed and developing world. More and more professionals are being added to this practice every day. Yet the need for this conversational panacea is so acute that there are millions who continue to suffer without even remote access to a practitioner. To tide over this gap, the advancement in Information technology is being sought to bring in transformative change in the way this wellness therapy is delivered to its intended beneficiaries. Websites like Kooth are providing chat-based counsellor access to the needful online at their convenience. This way not only the patient is able to get the therapy at his time and place of convenience, but in almost all cases the intervention is timely and reaches the patient when he/she needs the most.
This service and other such website who provide professional help online are set to revolutionize psychological healthcare by reaching millions of patients in far off places in the most inconvenient of times and at times most needed by the individual in suffering.
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