United Utilities

Last updated

United Utilities Group plc
Type Public limited company
LSE:  UU.
FTSE 100 Component
Industry Water industry
Founded1995;27 years ago (1995)
Headquarters Warrington, England
Area served
North West England
Key people
Products
Production output
  • 2.0 Gl/day (drinking)
  • 2.0 Gl/day (recycled)
Services
RevenueDecrease2.svg £1,808.0 million (2021) [1]
Decrease2.svg £602.1 million (2021) [1]
Increase2.svg £453.4  million (2021) [1]
Website www.unitedutilities.com

United Utilities Group plc (UU), the United Kingdom's largest listed water company, was founded in 1995 as a result of the merger of North West Water and NORWEB. [2] The group manages the regulated water and waste water network in North West England, which includes Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, most of Cheshire and a small area of Derbyshire, which have a combined population of more than seven million. [3] [4]

Contents

The United Utilities Group was the electricity distribution network operator for the North West until 2010, when its electricity subsidiary was sold to Electricity North West. United Utilities' headquarters are in Warrington and the company has more than 5,000 direct employees. [5] Its shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and it is a constituent the FTSE 100 Index. [6]

North West England is the wettest region in England, [7] and water hardness across the region is soft to very soft. [8]

History

In 1989 the North West Water Authority, which was responsible for the provision of water to the North West of England, was privatised and became North West Water Group plc. [9] In 1995, the company acquired NORWEB plc, the then regional electricity distributor and supplier, and on 1 April 1996 changed its name to United Utilities plc. [9]

In January 1998, United Utilities listed on the New York Stock Exchange, [10] but delisted its shares in May 2007. [11] In 2000, the North West Water and NORWEB branding was phased out in favour of United Utilities, the rebranding was completed by the end of 2001. The company sold some of the businesses it had acquired, its telecoms business, Your Communications was sold in February 2006, [12] and Vertex in March 2007. [13] [14]

In December 2007, United Utilities sold its electricity distribution network assets to North West Electricity Networks (Jersey) Limited, a joint venture between funds run by Colonial First State and JPMorgan Chase. Electricity North West became the licensed Distribution Network Operator for the north west of England as a result. [15]

United Utilities operated and maintained the regional electricity network on behalf of Electricity North West until 2010, when Electricity North West bought the electricity network operations and maintenance arm from United Utilities to establish one Group. [16] [17]

In October 2011, United Utilities was selected as the preferred bidder by Severn Trent Water to purchase the Lake Vyrnwy estate for £11 million. [18] United Utilities later withdrew from the bidding process. [19] In February 2012, United Utilities proposed a national water pipeline linking water sources in Manchester to London. [20] In April 2016, United Utilities received an 18-year loan of £500m from The European Investment Bank to support investment across the North West. [21]

In May 2016, the Competition & Markets Authority granted United Utilities and Severn Trent Water approval to create a new joint venture company in preparation for the water market deregulation. In June 2016, United Utilities and Severn Trent Water formed Water Plus, in readiness to provide the retail services for their non-household customers. [22]

In May 2019, the company announced the appointment of Sir David Higgins as a non-executive director and to succeed Dr John McAdam as chairman. [23]

Operations

United Utilities' wastewater treatment plant for Preston, Lancashire Wastewater treatment works - geograph.org.uk - 303987.jpg
United Utilities' wastewater treatment plant for Preston, Lancashire

United Utilities currently supplies water to a population of 7.3 million people across the North West. [24]

The company also manages 78,000 kilometres of wastewater pipes which take sewage from 7.3 million people for treatment at nearly 600 wastewater treatment works. It also operates 37 renewable energy facilities. [25]

Reservoirs

A sign with the former North West Water branding. Sign next to Turton and Entwistle Reservoir - geograph.org.uk - 476033.jpg
A sign with the former North West Water branding.
Haweswater Reservoir in Cumbria, constructed by the Manchester Corporation in 1929. Haweswater from Harter Fell 3.jpg
Haweswater Reservoir in Cumbria, constructed by the Manchester Corporation in 1929.

United Utilities owns some 166 water supply reservoirs, [25] various river and stream intakes, as well as lake abstractions and numerous groundwater sources, to supply the region. [26] Some reservoirs operated by the company are outside the North West such as the Longdendale Chain in Derbyshire, which were constructed by the Manchester Corporation in the 19th century, and remain networked to the North West's water supply. The principal reservoirs are as follows: [25]

Service problems

Watermain breaks

In May 2010, a burst water main cut 15,000 customers in Moreton, Leasowe and Wallasey off water for 3 days. [30] In November 2019, a burst pipe in a local treatment works disrupted water supply in the CH 41/42/43/63 areas and bottled water supply points were set up. [31]

Water contamination

On 7 August 2015, cryptosporidium, a water borne parasite that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, had been detected in the water supply to Blackpool, Chorley, Fylde, Preston, South Ribble and Wyre [32] affecting more than 300,000 customers. [33] [34] No cases of cryptosporidiosis were reported and by introducing of ultra-violet treatment units "boil water" notices could be lifted in some areas. Initial Investigations by United Utilities and the Drinking Water Inspectorate had not identified the cause. [35] Later the root cause was identified as run-off water from agricultural land following severe rainfall. [36]

On 6 September 2015, the water supply was declared free from contamination, and restrictions were lifted. [37] United Utilities was subsequently fined £300,000 at Preston Crown Court on 10 October 2017 for supplying water unfit for human consumption, with an additional £150,000 costs. It paid around £18 million in compensation to its customers. [38] United Utilities held a number of seminars following this event to outline steps it had taken following the incident and share lessons with other water companies. [39]

See also

Related Research Articles

Ladybower Reservoir Reservoir in Derbyshire, England

Ladybower Reservoir is a large Y-shaped, artificial reservoir, the lowest of three in the Upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, England. The River Ashop flows into the reservoir from the west; the River Derwent flows south, initially through Howden Reservoir, then Derwent Reservoir, and finally through Ladybower Reservoir. The reservoir is owned by Severn Trent plc.

Severn Trent

Severn Trent plc is a water company based in Coventry, England. It is traded on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Severn Trent, the trading name owned by the company, applies to a group of companies operating across the United Kingdom, United States and mainland Europe, with some involvement in the Middle East. It took its name from the two predecessor River Authorities, which managed the catchment of the Severn and the Trent.

Lake Vyrnwy Man-made lake in Wales

Lake Vyrnwy is a reservoir in Powys, Wales, built in the 1880s for Liverpool Corporation Waterworks to supply Liverpool with fresh water. It flooded the head of the Vyrnwy valley and submerged the village of Llanwddyn.

Norweb, originally the North Western Electricity Board, was a British electricity supply and distribution company. It supplied electricity to about 4.7 million industrial, commercial and domestic customers in the North West of England, although Merseyside and parts of Cheshire were instead covered by Manweb.

Centrica plc is a British multinational energy and services company with its headquarters in Windsor, Berkshire. Its principal activity is the supply of electricity and gas to consumers in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

National Grid plc is a British multinational electricity and gas utility company headquartered in London, England. Its principal activities are in the United Kingdom, where it owns and operates electricity and natural gas transmission networks, and in the Northeastern United States, where as well as operating transmission networks, the company produces and supplies electricity and gas, providing both to customers in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Public electricity suppliers (PES) were the fourteen electricity companies created in Great Britain when the electricity market in the United Kingdom was privatised following the Electricity Act 1989. The Utilities Act 2000 subsequently split these companies between distribution network operators and separate supply companies.

Yorkshire Water

Yorkshire Water is a water supply and treatment utility company servicing West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, part of North Lincolnshire, most of North Yorkshire and part of Derbyshire, in England. The company has its origins in the Yorkshire Water Authority, one of ten regional water authorities created by the Water Act 1973, and privatised under the terms of the Water Act 1989, when Yorkshire Water plc, the parent company of the Yorkshire Water business, was floated on the London Stock Exchange. The parent company was Kelda Group in 1999. In February 2008, Kelda Group was bought by a consortium of infrastructure funds.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is a not-for-profit company which supplies drinking water and wastewater services to most of Wales and parts of western England that border Wales. In total, it serves around 1.4 million households and businesses and around three million people - and supplies nearly 830 million litres of drinking water per day.

Clywedog Reservoir Reservoir in the United Kingdom

The Clywedog Reservoir is a reservoir near Llanidloes, Wales on the head-waters of the River Severn. The construction of the reservoir was enabled by an Act of Parliament which asserted that "At certain times the flow of water in the river is inadequate ... unless that flow were regulated so as to ensure that at those times water in addition to the natural flow will flow down the river." Its primary purpose was to regulate the flow in the River Severn to mitigate flooding and provide support for drinking water abstractions for the West Midlands. It was completed in 1967 and is situated near the B4518 road north of Llanidloes, Powys.

Enterprise plc

Enterprise plc was a support services company originally based in Farington in Lancashire, England. Its core markets were local authorities and utility sectors. It has recently been integrated into Ferrovial's UK company, Amey plc.

South West Water

South West Water provides drinking water and waste water services throughout Devon and Cornwall and in small areas of Dorset and Somerset. South West Water was created in 1989 with the privatisation of the water industry. It was preceded by the South West Water Authority which was formed by the Water Act 1973 as one of ten regional water authorities formed by a merger of various statutory and local authority water undertakings. South West Water is part of the Pennon Group.

North West Water

North West Water officially came into existence in the summer of 1989 as part of the privatisation of the water industry in England and Wales. It was a water supply, sewage disposal and sewage treatment company serving North West England. It merged with NORWEB in December 1995 to form United Utilities.

Eastern Electricity

Eastern Electricity plc was an electricity supply and distribution utility serving eastern England, including East Anglia and part of Greater London. It was renamed Eastern Group under which name it was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index until it was acquired by Hanson plc in 1995, before being purchased by Texas Utilities in 1998.

Scottish Hydro Electric

Scottish Hydro plc was a public electricity supplier formed on 1 August 1989 after a change of name from North of Scotland Electricity plc on that date. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but merged with Southern Electric in 1998.

SSE plc British energy company

SSE plc is a multinational energy company headquartered in Perth, Scotland. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. SSE operates in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

South Staffordshire Water

South Staffordshire Water plc known as South Staffs Water is a UK water supply company owned by a privately owned utilities company serving parts of Staffordshire the West Midlands as well as small areas of surrounding counties in England. South Staffordshire Water plc is part of South Staffordshire plc. It purchased Cambridge Water in 2011. In 2013, KKR & Co. L.P., a company registered in the United States of America, acquired South Staffordshire Water from Alinda Infrastructure Fund. As of April 2018, KKR & Co. L.P., has agreed to sell its 75% equity stake in South Staffordshire plc to Arjun Infrastructure Partners (AIP). This deal will include South Staffs Water (SSW) and its non-regulated businesses, SSI Services and Echo Managed Services.

Severn Trent Water Authority was one of ten regional water authorities established in 1974. Its area of operation was the catchments of the River Trent and River Severn. It assumed the powers and responsibilities of existing water supply authorities in those catchment areas, the Severn River Authority, the Trent River Authority and the sewage and sewage disposal responsibilities of the councils within its area.

Hafren Dyfrdwy Water company of England and Wales

Hafren Dyfrdwy is a water company providing water and wastewater treatment services, operating in north east and mid Wales. It provides water only in Wrexham and parts of Denbighshire and Flintshire and both water and wastewater in northern Powys. It previously served north east Wales and parts of North West England as Dee Valley Water until June 2018. Its parent entity, Dee Valley Group PLC had shares listed on the FTSE Fledgling Index on the London Stock Exchange, but was purchased by Severn Trent in February 2017.

References

  1. 1 2 3 "Annual Results 2021" (PDF). United Utilities. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  2. "United Utilities". CompaniesHistory.com - The largest companies and brands in the world. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  3. "Am I in the United Utilities water area?". United Utilities. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  4. "United Utilities Annual Report 2020 info on supply area". United Utilities. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  5. "United Utilities Annual Report 2020 regional impact". United Utilities. Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  6. "FTSE 100 Factsheet". FTSE Russell. Retrieved 26 September 2021.
  7. "Why a hosepipe ban in England's wettest region?". BBC News . 25 June 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  8. "Water hardness". www.unitedutilities.com. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  9. 1 2 "United Utilities - Share price history". www.unitedutilities.com. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  10. "United Utilities shares launch". The Independent . 30 January 1998. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  11. "United Utilities and ICI drop New York listings". The Guardian . 30 May 2007. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  12. "Thus pays £59m for United Utilities telecom arm". The Independent. 2 February 2006. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  13. Richard Wray (2 June 2005). "United Utilities to sell telecoms arm". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  14. "United Utilities sells outsourcing arm Vertex". Reuters. 15 January 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  15. Mark Milner (24 November 2007). "United Utilities sells its power supply network". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  16. Electricity Northwest buys network operations arm from United Utilities Archived 5 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Utility Week, 28 June 2010
  17. "United Utilities disposes of electricity maintenance and repair arm". Liverpool Post . 29 June 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  18. "'Unanswered question' over Lake Vyrnwy estate sale". BBC News. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  19. "Firm pulls out of deal to buy Lake Vyrnwy farmland". www.shropshirestar.com. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  20. "UU in rail pipe plan to ease north-south water divide". Manchester Evening News . 27 February 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  21. Begum, Shelina (14 April 2016). "United Utilities receives £500m European Investment Bank funding". men. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  22. "Severn Trent and United Utilities win approval for joint venture". The Daily Telegraph . 3 May 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  23. "Chairman designate appointed at United Utilities". Insider Media. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  24. "Our region - United Utilities Group PLC Annual Report 2019". unitedutilities.annualreport2020.com. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  25. 1 2 3 "What we do - United Utilities Group PLC Annual Report 2019". unitedutilities.annualreport2020.com. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  26. "Water Resources Management Plan" (PDF). United Utilities. Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  27. "Woodhead Reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  28. "Bottoms Reservoir". United Utilities. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
  29. "Rivington Reservoirs (main scheme)". Engineering Timelines. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  30. "Water supply problems resolved". BBC. 30 May 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2019. "Water supply problems resolved". BBC. 30 May 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  31. Wirral view, Wirral Council (3 November 2019). "DISRUPTION TO WATER SUPPLY" . Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  32. "Lancashire homes forced to boil water due to cryptosporidium bug", BBC News, 7 August 2015, accessed 28 August 2015
  33. "Lancashire water parasite alert enters fourth week", BBC News, 27 August 2015, accessed 28 August 2015
  34. "Petition for parliamentary inquiry into Lancashire water bug". BBC News. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  35. "Utility Week – United Utilities fully lifts boil water notice" . Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  36. "United Utilities: cryptosporidium incident due to run-off water from agricultural land". www.waterbriefing.org. Retrieved 14 August 2020.
  37. "Compensation - frequently asked questions" . Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  38. "United Utilities fined £300,000 after water contamination scandal". The Telegraph. 10 October 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  39. "Franklaw: lessons learn" (PDF). United Utilities. Retrieved 27 February 2021.