"Customers are over a barrel of commercial tyranny" but smarter networks will help them

Monday, September 19, 2011 at 2:00PM

ENA Fringe Review
Liberal Democrat Conference

Smarter networks: empowering the people?

“Customers are over a barrel of commercial tyranny” but smarter networks will help them. This was the message from Duncan Hames MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Chris Huhne speaking at Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) fringe event at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham today. He also spoke about the critical role that customers have to play in bringing down the cost of energy.

“We have a situation where our evening peak demands three times more energy than our morning peak. If we are to keep people’s bills down we must smooth these peaks with new technologies and a smarter network. This will make our energy usage more efficient and cheaper than continuing as we are now."

He described the future of energy as having many elements, a picture that was shared by Paul Smith of ENA. Both agreed a smarter grid enabling customers to appreciate and manage their usage, facilitating their own contribution to supply and an affordable, sustainable and reliable energy mix were crucial.

Paul also addressed concerns of costs saying:

“Investing in a smarter network will inevitably cost money. But the cost of doing nothing and providing for future demand with the kind of wires and pipes we do now would be significantly more.”

Rhian Kelly, Director of Low Carbon Investment at the CBI, spoke of the need to engage customers more strongly. Their research has shown that clearer and better information about energy saving initiatives are needed if a lasting shift of behaviour is to be achieved. She said:

“Government and industry need to work closer. Both have a role to play in delivering credible and accurate information to reassure the customer of this transition.”

Andrew Pendleton, Associate Director for Energy and Climate Change at the IPPR, agreed that information and communication were key:

“With the cost for this being significant we must capture the savings and ensure they are delivered to customers in the long term if we are to achieve success.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

ENA represents the wires and pipes industry of the electricity and gas transmission and distribution networks in the UK and Ireland.

For more information please contact:
Tim Field
Press and Public Affairs Executive
Energy Networks Association
07725 372758