PUBLISHED: 11:05 01 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010
THEY send most of us bills, and most of us send them money every month - or quarter - but the exact role of TXU in Britain's energy market is a bit of a mystery to many people.
THEY send most of us bills, and most of us send them money every month – or quarter – but the exact role of TXU in Britain's energy market is a bit of a mystery to many people.
Earlier this month the Texas-based company sold its interest in the cables that carry electricity around East Anglia – and the staff at 24seven who maintain them.
But it's still a big player in the energy market – and employs more than 1,000 people in the Ipswich area.
TXU owns three power stations in this country, generating about 2,600 megawatts of electricity – but that's not a large proportion of Britain's entire energy needs.
Effectively it buys electricity from generators, pays cable companies to run it through their wires, and charges its customers for the power they use.
It has a similar relationship with gas producers and distribution companies.
It's all a far cry from when the electricity market was first privatised in 1990.
Then there were two generators (GenCos) – National Power Gen and National Power – making all the electricity for the country.
This was distributed to customers by the regional electricity distribution companies (DisCos) through their local networks.
Now the market is much more complex – you can buy your electricity from any one of a number of suppliers and TXU itself has customers from Lands End to John O'Groats.
In East Anglia electricity for customers is pumped through wires owned by EPN and maintained by engineers employed by 24 Seven.
Both EPN and 24Seven are owned by LE-Group (London Electricity) which is in turned owned by French giant EDF.
TXU has more than five million customers in Britain, buying both electricity and gas from the company – with Ipswich the headquarters of its British retail business.
"Our business has changed significantly over the last 12 years we are now fully focussed to provide the kind of service our customers expect and deserve," said senior manager Peter Bennell.
In the future the company is looking at expanding its services into telecommunications and maintenance services for customers.
It employs more than 1,000 people in the town, and they are due to move into new high-tech offices in Russell Road in Spring 2003.
"That's a real investment in the future of Ipswich," Mr Bennell said.