(Reuters) – Three of England’s big water companies unveiled plans on Monday to cut leakages and improve services while keeping prices at least flat in real terms after their performance was questioned in the country’s hottest summer in living memory.
The business plans for 2020 to 2025 from Thames Water, United Utilities Group Plc (UU.L) and Severn Trent Plc (SVT.L) follow demands from Environment Minister Michael Gove in July that they do much more to tackle leakage.
Thames, which serves 15 million customers across the south of England, said it would invest 11.7 billion pounds in upgrades over the period, including 2.1 billion pounds to “boost resilience and reduce leakage”.
It said the plan would cut leakage by 15 percent and reduce pollution incidents by 18 percent after it took a 20-million-pound record fine last year for pumping sewage into the River Thames.
In the plans filed with regulators, United Utilities said it would cut average bills by 10.5 percent in real terms between 2020 and 2025, Severn Trent Plc (SVT.L) said it would reduce prices by 5 percent and peer Thames Water said its bills would be flat.
United, which serves the north-west of England, also said it had committed to reducing leakage by 15 percent.
The plans follow water industry regulator Ofwat’s modified price review 2019 methodology in July, requiring water suppliers to be more transparent about their dividend policies, executive pay, debt-to-equity ratio and other issues.
Ofwat will scrutinise all of the business plans and will publish an initial assessment on Jan. 31 next year, where it will categorise companies’ plans according to the level of quality, ambition and innovation they have demonstrated, the regulator said on Monday.