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Energy networks respond to Citizens Advice research on utility regulation

30 May 2019

Press contacts for journalists

ENA Press Office

press@energynetworks.org

Calculations underpinning Citizens Advice research are wrong, says ENA.

Commenting on research published by Citizens Advice on the regulation of utility companies, including energy network companies, David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, says:

“The calculations underpinning this research are simply wrong, with the numbers plucked out of thin air. The analysis conveniently ignores the pace of change that has been taking place in our country’s energy infrastructure to deliver record levels of renewable energy and prepare for things like electric vehicles, producing an inflated figure as a result.

“The full cost of these changes is not reflected in this research. The fact is that overall network costs are down 17% since 1990, delivering savings for the public by running a world-class system of energy networks more efficiently. Meanwhile over the past six years alone more than £32 billion has been invested in Britain’s network infrastructure, helping drive economic regeneration in communities across the country whilst securing a sustainable and affordable energy supply for future generations.”

Notes to editor

  • Energy Networks Association represents the companies that are responsible for operating the ‘wires and pipes’ of Britain’s gas and electricity network infrastructure, serving over 30 million customers across the country.
  • Read why ENA believes the Citizens Advice Missing Billions methodology is incorrect.
  • The findings of the Citizen’s Advice Missing Billions research run contrary to the findings of a 2015 Competition and Markets Authority ruling on the cost of debt used by Ofgem. More detail on this can be found in the blog linked to above.
  • Investment figures of £32 billion over the last 6 years cover energy network companies operating gas and electricity distribution networks and the gas transmission networks, taken from the 2017/8 Ofgem Annual Performance Reports for the RIIO price control. They do not include the electricity transmission networks. The reports can be found online here.

Key facts about Britain’s energy network companies:

  • Local electricity generation: Over 30GW of largely renewable electricity generation is now connected to Britain’s local electricity grids, generating a quarter of Britain’s electricity.
  • Customer satisfaction: Regular satisfaction surveys conducted by Ofgem with a range of customers show consistent satisfaction of more than 87% in the services provided by network companies, putting networks above any energy supply company, higher than many high-street retailers and amongst the very best performers in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index.
  • Value for money: Network companies are responsible for operating and maintaining 1 million km of electricity cables and 272,000km of gas pipelines across the UK at a cost of around 35p per day.
  • Vulnerable customers: Distribution networks now provide extra support and care to over six million vulnerable customers on their Priority Services Registers. So far in RIIO-GD1, gas distribution networks have helped 64,100 households with their fuel bills under the Fuel Poor Extension Scheme
  • Safety: Safety has improved considerably since privatisation. Total Recordable Incident Rate for electricity network staff shows a tenfold improvement since 1990.
  • Reliability: An average customer would have a power cut less than every two years which will last for 35 minutes. Gas network customers experience an unplanned interruption to their supply once every 140 years.
  • Jobs: Directly employing 36,000 people, the energy networks have a vital role in supporting UK plc.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.

ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.

Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.

What are energy network operators?

Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).

Press contacts for journalists

ENA Press Office

press@energynetworks.org