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Jobs could go at United Utilities

January 29, 2010 at 4:02 am

United Utilities, one of the major water firms in the country, has announced that it could be getting rid of between 10% and 20% of its workforce in the near future. This would lead to up to 1,800 job cuts, as reported by The Sunday Telegraph.

This news comes following new pricing guidelines that have been introduced by the regulator, Ofwat. It has decided that water companies must reduce their customer bills by 0.4% between 2011 and 2015, leading United Utilities to consider a cost-cutting programme.

The Warrington-based company currently employs 9,000 staff, but if it needs to cut costs then it is not afraid to reduce its workforce in order to meet its targets. It had previously asked Ofwat for an investment programme of £4 billion, but the regulator only agreed to £3.6 billion in the end.

Ofwat says that its plans will see average bills of 10% lower than those proposed by the water companies, which is certainly good news for customers but will unfortunately lead to job cuts.

It is not the first time that the water company has been linked with job cuts in recent months. Last year, unions claimed that it was going to cut up to 260 jobs from the water pipes staff sector.

The Sunday Telegraph quotes Barry Clarke from Water UK as saying that the Ofwat report was a “tough settlement”, even though it was more lenient than originally thought. He said that the plan would lead to companies taking “tough choices”.

United Utilities is expected to agree to Ofwat’s terms very shortly.

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Thames Water turns human waste into energy

January 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Renewable energy is all the rage at the moment, and now Thames Water has revealed a surprising strategy for saving the environment. It has just announced that it has managed to save £15 million on its annual fuel bills through converting human waste into energy.

The figures are quite extraordinary, especially as many people are unaware that energy can even be generated in such a way. The huge amount of the energy source that Thames Water has at its disposal makes it particularly well suited to take advantage of it. Indeed, it managed to generate 14% of its energy needs for the last year through human waste alone.

The water company deals with the disposal of waste from its 13.6 million customers. One method of generating power involves drying the sewage to form blocks and then burning them. The other method involves breaking the waste down using anaerobic digestion, producing methane which can then be burnt.

Once it has been used for producing power, the sewage sludge can then be used by farmers and developers as fertiliser and landscaping material, so nothing goes to waste. Last year 100% of its sewage sludge was put to use and nothing was sent to landfill.

The practice of turning waste into power is taking place at a number of its plants, and the company is aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.

The climate change strategy manager at Thames Water, Dr Keith Colquhoun, said that they have cut emissions “by 5% in the past two years, despite grid energy becoming more carbon-intensive”.

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