July 4 (Reuters) - Britain’s water industry regulator on Thursday informed water companies that there was a big gap between their proposed retail and wholesale costs to run their businesses between 2020 and 2025 and that of its own.
The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) said Anglian Water, Thames Water and Yorkshire Water are asking for significantly more money than they currently spend for wholesale water and wastewater services. It also said SES Water was seeking more money for providing retail services.
However, Anglian Water said its cost plan was developed after talking to customers.
“As the company serving the driest and one of the fastest growing parts of the country, we’re confident our plan is the right one to ensure a sustainable future for our region,” the company said in an email.
Thames Water and Yorkshire Water did not immediately respond to requests for comment. SES Water could not be reached.
Ofwat’s move comes at a time when British utilities face the opposition Labour Party’s renationalisation plan, prompting infrastructure owners to warn of damage to investment and high taxpayer costs.
A re-nationalisation could raise customer bills and lower investment, Britain’s listed utilities Severn Trent
Labour says that water bills have risen 40% in real terms since privatisation in 1989, while water companies receive more in tax credits than they pay in tax while paying out large dividends to shareholders.
“We are disappointed that revised proposals from Anglian Water, SES Water, Thames Water, and Yorkshire Water have not yet risen to the challenge we have set them,” Ofwat Senior Director David Black said.
British water utilities have faced a series of fines and a summer marked by supply shortages and hosepipe bans last year.
Ofwat will announce draft determinations for 14 water companies on July 18 and they will have until August 30 to respond.
Other water utilities in the country include South Staffordshire, Bristol, Severn Trent, Essex and Sussex , Portsmouth and United Utilities.
Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur