Ofwat Says 17 of 18 U.K. Water Firms Accepted Price Cap

(Bloomberg) — Ofwat, the regulator of 18 water and sewer
companies across England and Wales, said all utilities except
one accepted its final proposal for prices they’re allowed to
charge customers over the next five years.

The companies had until Feb. 12 to agree to or challenge
the determination. Bristol Water Plc was the only utility to
appeal to the Competition and Markets Authority for a price
review, Ofwat said Friday in a statement.

Bristol Water has 1.15 million customers in southwest
England around the Bristol area. On Feb. 6 the company said
Ofwat’s price determination for it to cut rates by 23 percent
over the 2015-2020 period would make it difficult to maintain
service levels and invest enough “to improve and protect the
water supply that our customers told us they wanted.”

Ofwat sets limits on how much the 10 water and sewer
utilities and eight water-only companies it regulates can charge
every five years. On Dec. 12, Ofwat published final prices for
the five-year period starting in April that will see the average
annual bill fall about 5 percent from 396 pounds ($610) now to
376 pounds. Its decision is meant to support 44 billion pounds
of infrastructure investments to curb leaks and sewer flooding
while keeping household bills as low as possible.

Ofwat’s allowed levels of spending and customer bills had
earlier been accepted by United Utilities Group Plc, Severn
Trent Plc and Pennon Group Plc, Britain’s three biggest publicly
traded water providers. Bristol Water’s chief executive said a
review by the CMA over the coming months is “the only fair
way” to resolve its differences with Ofwat.

Capstone Infrastructure Corp. of Toronto is the largest
owner of Bristol Water with half of the company. Ofwat said it
will work with the company and CMA to “continue to protect the
best interests of customers.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Louise Downing in London at
ldowning4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Randall Hackley at
rhackley@bloomberg.net;
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Alex Devine

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