by Caroline Ennion
BEN was invited to the WPD Annual Stakeholder Workshop in Bristol to provide input into Western Power Distribution’s next Business Plan (RIIO-ED2), starting in 2023.
We were presented with a set of 14 priorities and, as a table, asked to rank them (high medium and low) and to devise actions to deliver our top priorities. This prompted some great discussions, like the difficulties of ranking Fuel Poverty against Cyber Resilience and the complexities and language that create a real barrier to communities when engaging in small scale energy generation and Smart energy projects.
We also explored the Social Contract – which are essentially the principles that guide the Business Plan (transparent decision making, environmental protection, shareholder payments etc). Our table felt strongly that these should be embedded within the Business Plan, not least because OFGEM could provide another level of scrutiny in addition to that of the Customer Engagement Group. Although some attendees felt that this was somewhat of a distraction from their “real” business of providing a low-cost, reliable electricity supply.
We then looked at Smart Futures This included flexibility, which is how the system can adapt to turn energy production & demand up and down; shift consumption forwards and backwards (I’m still not really clear on what this is!) and energy storage. And finally, we discussed the future demand placed on the network by the growing number of affordable electric cars and household heat pumps, and how WPD could respond to these additional demands.
I felt I was being asked to make decisions about strategic priorities in a very simplified way, for a point far into the future in a rapidly changing energy market. However, it was a useful event with some interesting discussions which we will follow up with WPD. If you have any comments that you feel should be communicated to WPD as part of this consultation please email them to me and we’ll keep you posted on what happens next.