The government has announced an inquiry into the power cut on Friday that left people stuck in trains for up to nine hours and almost a million people in England and Wales without electricity. The outage, the biggest in a decade, caused chaos during the evening rush hour, plunging Newcastle airport into darkness and causing gridlock in some areas as traffic lights stopped working. Describing the disruption as “enormous”, the business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said: “National Grid (NG.) must urgently review and report to Ofgem. I will also be commissioning the government’s energy emergencies executive committee to consider the incident.” The energy watchdog, Ofgem, had already demanded an “urgent detailed report” from the National Grid to better understand what went wrong, and threatened enforcement action.
SSE (SSE) which supplies almost 6m households, is in talks to sell its household supply business to upstart Ovo Energy. If a deal is finalised, it would catapult Ovo – founded a decade ago in Bristol by Stephen Fitzpatrick – into the ranks of the big energy suppliers, in a major shake-up of the industry. The SSE deal would add 5.7 million household customers to Ovo’s existing 1.5m, putting Ovo in second place after British Gas, which has 12m domestic customers. Ovo has offered £250m for SSE’s struggling household division, called SSE Energy Services. Ovo has grown into a medium-sized firm after taking on half a million customers from smaller rivals Economy Energy and Spark, which collapsed in January, boosting its market share to nearly 5%. SSE’s chief executive, Alistair Phillips-Davies, has been under pressure to dispose of the retail division since the group’s embarrassing failure to merge it with rival npower in December. Both companies blamed the government’s cap on energy prices and growing competition for their failure to reach a deal.
State-owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) has reportedly chosen Alison Rose as its next chief executive, making her the first woman to lead one of Britain’s major lenders. Rose, who has worked at RBS for 25 years, has long been the City’s favourite to succeed outgoing boss Ross McEwan, with rumours of her leadership bid predating news of his departure in April. Her appointment is now being considered by City regulators, including the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority, and is set to be announced in the coming weeks, according to Sky News. It comes a week after RBS’ last board meeting, where the selection process – led by chairman Howard Davies – would have been discussed. Once confirmed, the decision means the state-owned bank will have installed two women to the lender’s most powerful executive positions in just a year, having appointed Katie Murray as its finance chief back in January.