The Business Year

Nick Carter

UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

All Seeing Eye

Director General, Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB)

Bio

Nick Carter is a fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (previously the IEE) and a member of the UK Engineering Council. Educated at University College London, INSEAD, and London Business School, he has spent most of his working life in utility management, having held a number of executive level positions in London Electricity and Southern Electricity of the UK. He joined the water and electricity unbundling team for Abu Dhabi in 1998 and in 1999 was appointed Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Distribution Company and Board Member of the local transmission company (TRANSCO). Carter joined the Regulation and Supervision Bureau in 2001.

How does the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB) encourage the conservation of water and electricity here in Abu Dhabi? We have encouraged conservation in a number of ways. The first […]

How does the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB) encourage the conservation of water and electricity here in Abu Dhabi?

We have encouraged conservation in a number of ways. The first was the establishment of the Powerwise and Waterwise offices. They were established because of a desire for the sector to be greener but also to support the issue of our new electricity and water bills, for which we have won praise from the World Energy Council and other utility stakeholders. The new bills are unique in the region because they display the subsidy paid by the government of Abu Dhabi. Formerly combined, they are now split between water and electricity to message customers these utilities separately. We have a suite of bills, which are color coded; red for electricity, blue for water, and green for wastewater, which we hope to issue at some point. These well-designed, clear bills indicate the full subsidy and the unit rate for the consumer. We launched these new bills in early 2012, and within the residential bills we also introduced green and red bands. The green bands correspond to an ideal consumption level for a flat or villa. The idea is that if you consume more than this ideal average, you go into the red band, although the unit charges are the same. It is such a flexible instrument that it would allow us, say, to increase red band charges and modify amounts in the green or red band. Therefore, there is a whole range of things we can do with these bills that we could never do before. Meaning, this is a primary change in the way that people perceive their water and electricity bills and we rolled out a big campaign for this. We have also launched Waterwise and Powerwise to promote the conservation of water or electricity. Additionally, we are running several other projects, involving consumers of power or water. One of these, the residential end-of-use water project, where we install data loggers based on 150 customers, gives us a confidence factor of 90%. These in-line data loggers are smart and record the velocity and amount of water delivered to help identify where water is being used.

The government is working to diversify away from hydrocarbon-based energy generation toward renewables. How do you anticipate this taking place?

To some extent, plans to build nuclear power plants are a declaration of faith in the future. I think that in 40-50 years, the UAE will look back and conclude that nuclear power was a very good choice. In terms of renewable energy, clearly you have to structure your renewable energy approach to where you live. Solar energy may appear to be extremely easy here, but it is not easy to generate. We have 2 MW of solar panels on the roofs of about 15 buildings. Technology will enable renewable energy to become cheaper and more efficient. I really do feel renewables are the future, but remember they are dependent on the weather.

How would you summarize market conditions for energy development in Abu Dhabi?

We are very keen on an integrated approach from the provision of gas, or primary fuel, right through to the provision of services to customers. In this regard, privatization brings innovation and drives people to provide power and water more efficiently and cheaper. We have found that unit costs are declining and it is generally more efficient to use commercially focused companies to run a business as opposed to a government entity.

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