“UK pension scheme assets benefited from positive equity and credit returns this month, though this was partly offset by an increase in liabilities as inflation expectations rose,” he said.“Though March was generally positive for markets as central bank action, positive economic data and rising oil prices bolstered investor sentiment, clouds remain on the horizon – most noticeably the prospect of market volatility in the event of a ‘Brexit’, which extended sterling’s weakening against the euro in March.”At the end of March, the PPF 7800 universe covered schemes with liabilities of £1.59trn, slightly down by £5.5bn compared with February.In other news, a working group founded by leading employer covenant advisers has published a list of principles to guide stakeholders during the valuation of defined benefit funds.The Employer Covenant Working Group (ECWG) said the publication of its principles was necessitated as The Pensions Regulator (TPR) “consistently raised the bar” on what was expected of trustees and employers, while individual advisers had developed their own approach to valuing covenant strength.“With this in mind,” a statement said, “the ECWG has been formed to address the need for greater consistency, recognised leading practice and improved standards in covenant advisory work.”Gary Squires, chair of the ECWG, noted that employers would not want to risk schemes becoming reliant on the PPF.“Given the scale of the challenge, it’s clear there is a need for a consistent approach to addressing funding deficits, and the members of the ECWG’s work assisting trustees, scheme sponsors and regulators in considering an employer’s ability to pay contributions into the future is vitally important to help secure the retirement of millions of people.”The principles detail a sponsor’s legal obligation, how to best value a scheme’s position and how to assess a sponsor’s ability to support a fund, among other areas.Finally, Willis Towers Watson has developed a new longevity model to improve the accuracy of assumptions by drawing on medical data, better predicting how many pension fund members will go on to develop diabetes, for example.PulseModel was designed as the consultancy was concerned mortality models failed to incorporate medical information, Matthew Edwards, head of mortality at Willis Towers Watson, said.James Brown, lecturer in ageing metabolism at the Aston Research centre for Healthy Ageing in Birmingham, said the emergence of type 2 diabetes was “one of the gravest health issues” for the coming century.“This model represents a potential step-change in our ability to accurately predict outcomes based upon the likely future trends in diabetes incidence,” he said.“More importantly, it provides quantifiable predictions of the potentially dramatic implications diabetes might have on mortality and life expectancy.” Funding among the UK’s defined benefit (DB) funds rose towards the end of the financial year, as the aggregate deficit reported by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) fell to £302bn (€384bn).Overall funding levels stood at 81% at the end of last month, according to the PPF 7800 Index, while the deficit across the 5,945 schemes captured fell by £20bn compared with February.However, despite the improved ratio, funding remained down compared with March 2015, when it stood at 84.2%, accounting for a deficit of £244bn.Andy Tunningley, head of strategic clients at BlackRock in the UK, noted that March had been a “positive month” for the sector.
Vineyard Wind has released a study showing that its proposed 800MW wind farm offshore Massachusetts, US, would have reduced emissions and saved costs in comparison to other energy sources during the Grayson cyclone had it been installed.The study, prepared by Daymark Energy Advisors, demonstrated that the wind farm would have provided 61 million kilowatt-hours of emission-free generation over the bomb cyclone period from 4 to 7 January, based on wind conditions recorded.The project would have produced enough lower-cost electricity to reduce regional wholesale electric prices by nearly USD 20 per MWh, saving New England customers over USD 31 million and Massachusetts customers almost USD 15 million, according to the study.Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from New England power generators would have also been reduced by 67,485 metric tons, and the farm would have contributed 32,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas reduction benefits that are legally-mandated by the Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).Continuous cold weather conditions before and during the cyclone resulted in an increase in wholesale gas prices ten times higher than the annual average price during 2017. High prices for natural gas impact the wholesale electricity market because that fuel is used to generate more than half of New England’s electricity during normal weather, Vineyard Wind said.According to the company, regional pipeline constraints cause gas prices for power generation to soar during periods of extreme cold weather because natural gas is prioritized for home heating. In turn, power stations are forced to burn emission-intensive oil to fuel their turbines, which release tons of excess greenhouse gases and pollutants.The Vineyard Wind project would have run at full capacity for nearly all four days, relieving the need to burn either natural gas or heating oil, reducing emissions and savings costs even during the coldest weather, the developer said.“The report clearly details the importance of developing offshore wind at the earliest possible date in Massachusetts,” said Erich Stephens, Chief Development Officer of Vineyard Wind.“The sooner we start building the Commonwealth’s first offshore wind project, the sooner local residents and businesses will benefit from the abundant environmental and economic advantages that are associated with large-scale renewable and sustainable offshore wind energy.”Vineyard Wind submitted a proposal to deliver power generated by its 800MW offshore wind farm some 14 miles from Martha’s Vineyard, shortly after they applied for federal and state construction permits with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ Energy Facilities Siting Board for the construction of the project.By filing for construction permits in 2017, Vineyard Wind is on track to complete the permitting process in time to begin in-state construction in 2019, and be fully operational by 2021.
Close contacts of Patient No. 585 would be tested. As of yesterday, 40 residents have submitted specimens for testing. Mayor Elvira Alarcon said the lockdown covered 64 houses. The lockdown started on Monday, July 13, hours after the resident’s test result was released by the Department of Health (DOH) Region 6. Alarcon ordered policemen to guard the entrance and exit points of the housing project. ILOILO – The municipality of Batad locked down for five days a housing project after a resident tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The patient was a farm worker. She had fever and cough on June 28. The local government unit (LGU) of Batad would provide the needs of the locked down families such as food and water, among others. The COVID-19-positive resident was a 56-year-old female (Patient No. 585) now confined at the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City. The patient had herself checked by a doctor on June 30 at the Jesus Colmenares District Hospital in Balasan, Iloilo. She was diagnosed with community-acquire pneumonia (moderate risk). During the lockdown, said Alarcon, there would be contact tracing. On July 8 she insisted on going home despite having fever. The next day she consulted a private doctor. She had difficulty breathing and had allergy. She was eventually taken to WVMC where she was tested. “Wala man sia sang may ginkadtoan, sa uma man kag tapos sa baybay,” said Alarcon./PN