Thames Water has admitted it has failed to put in a single sensible water meter beneath a flagship £70m programme to suit a whole bunch of hundreds of the units to assist the UK’s “inexperienced financial restoration” from Covid-19.
The corporate has instructed regulators and buyers that it’s but to start putting in the 204,700 sensible water meters promised within the Thames Valley area, that are because of be fitted by the tip of March 2025.
In July 2021, the business regulator, Ofwat, gave the inexperienced gentle to water firms to take a position £2.7bn, which may later be recovered by payments, on accelerating a collection of tasks to “construct again greener from the pandemic”, together with new bathing rivers and efforts to guard habitats. Thames was earmarked £71.9m beneath the plan to roll out sensible meters within the Thames Valley.
Regulators hope that the set up of sensible water meters will assist households watch their consumption extra intently, chopping their utilization and decreasing the pressure on England’s leaky water techniques. Additionally they assist firms determine leaks extra shortly.
Nonetheless, in its annual efficiency report, Thames Water stated: “Our inexperienced financial restoration (GER) programme focuses on the set up of 204,700 extra sensible meters … together with new family meter installations within the Thames Valley area, the substitute of present primary non-household meters and the set up of bulk meters.
“There was no supply on the programme in 2022/23, though £1.062m has been spent on preparatory work for meter installations.”
It’s understood that greater than 200,000 pre-installation surveys have been carried out – figuring out which forms of work had been wanted – and 9,000 digs achieved to arrange for future meter becoming.
Though Thames has but to put in any meters beneath the GER programme, it has put in greater than 900,000 outdoors the scheme.
The corporate is struggling beneath £14bn of debt, and it emerged in June that officers had been drawing up contingency plans in case it wanted to be briefly renationalised. It introduced earlier this month that it had secured £750m of funding from present buyers on high of £500m obtained earlier this 12 months, however nonetheless wanted an additional £2.5bn to enhance its infrastructure and reduce its debt pile.
On Friday, the ranking company Moody’s downgraded Thames Water from B1 to B2 amid ongoing issues about whether or not the present run of fairness injections will probably be sufficient to stabilise its credit score high quality.
It warned an additional reduce may very well be on the best way, ought to Ofwat impose a “dividend block” on Thames in response to its funds and rising criticism of the corporate’s dumping of uncooked sewage overflows into waterways.
Thames is one among 5 water firms with authorized powers to suit meters. Shoppers’ water payments, that are already rising, can go up or down after their set up. Unmetered clients in England and Wales are billed a set quantity annually primarily based on the rateable worth of their property.
Thames has reassessed the GER programme to deal with areas hit by drought throughout excessive climate circumstances.
It stated in its report that it was “participating with Ofwat to think about elimination of the linkage” between the supply of the sensible meter plan and leakage targets. If Thames misses these targets, it will be unable to get better the price of the programme beneath present guidelines.
The corporate, which reported its worst 12 months for leaks in 5 years final 12 months stated it didn’t anticipate to hit the targets as “extraordinarily difficult” climate had knocked its progress off beam.
Some meters in areas outlined as “water harassed” have been fitted with out telling households.
The brand new co-chief govt of Thames, the previous Ofwat boss Cathryn Ross, stated earlier this month that the corporate was contemplating utilizing sensible meters to cost households with larger gardens extra with a purpose to curb the usage of hosepipes.
Thames Water stated installations beneath the GER programme had been because of begin “quickly”, including: “The south-east of England is a water harassed area and we have to act now to guard our future sources. We have now authorized powers to suit water meters in any respect properties in our area.”