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No-one to be left behind as the UK works toward net zero, analysis shows

20 August 2019


Households across Great Britain have ranked supporting customers – and in particular vulnerable customers – as among the most important services they want to see from their local electricity network operator, according to independent analysis. As the UK rapidly transforms its energy system to meet the net zero emissions target, the findings highlight the importance of understanding and safeguarding the needs of households.

With their strong track record of supporting vulnerable customers, network companies will play a key role in ensuring no-one is left behind. Households have also showed they back the innovative work being led by network companies to help deliver net zero. Across the UK, they are helping scale-up the amount of local, low-carbon energy generation on the grid and enabling new flexibility markets in which customers can be rewarded for using less or more energy at certain times of the day. 

The analysis, led by respected research consultants Accent and PJM Economics, has provided fresh insights into which network services are most valued. By listening to customer needs in this way, network companies will make the best decisions about which initiatives to plan, prioritise and invest in. Customers do not contribute more to fund these activities, with network costs staying the same. 

The network initiatives most valued by households:

  • Supporting customers, and in particular vulnerable customers, were ranked the highest priorities.
  • Fast and easy access to information including proactive advice on signing up to the Priority Services Register (PSR) and how to act in a power cut.
  • Accelerating the roll-out of more flexible energy services to benefit customers, for example by enabling them to earn money by using less electricity at a certain time of the day.
  • Developing initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of network company activities.
  • Making it easier for customers to connect local energy generation, such as solar PV and wind power.

David Smith, Chief Executive at Energy Networks Association says:

“The results of this analysis are testament to the role of electricity network companies as the backbone of communities everywhere. Not only do these companies raise awareness and provide advice to hard-to-reach customers such as elderly or less mobile people, but they have helped to sign up more than six million customers to receive priority support during a power cut. “As the UK strives for net zero, it is clear households want networks to keep on supporting local energy markets and integrating record levels of renewable energy. To allow this to continue, there must be strong alignment between forthcoming UK Government policy on net zero and Ofgem’s RIIO price control framework.”

Press contacts for journalists

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Notes to editor

  • Energy Networks Association represents the companies responsible for operating the ‘wires and pipes’ of Britain’s energy network infrastructure.
  • Serving over 30 million customers, they are responsible for the transmission and distribution network of “wires and pipes” that keep our lights on, our homes warm and our businesses running.
  • In 2017-18, around £280 of a typical household's dual fuel energy bill went towards running and maintaining the gas and electricity network which is around only one fifth of the average energy bill of £1,117.
  • Accent’s analysis, carried out in Spring 2019, involved surveying more than 1,200 households, using a mix of online surveys and in-home interviews with bill-payers of varying ages (16 years and older), gender and socio-economic status. The full report is available on request, along with background on the measurement approach used.
  • Local electricity network operators, known as Distribution Network Operators, submit evidence as part of Ofgem’s annual Stakeholder Engagement and Consumer Vulnerability (SECV) incentive scheme on the outcomes of stakeholder engagement activities and value delivered.
  • Customer satisfaction levels with electricity network companies are at a record high of more than 87%, which is higher than all energy supply companies and many high-street retailers.
  • Local electricity network companies provide support and care to over 6 million vulnerable customers via the priority services register, which gives them priority support during a power cut.

About Energy Networks Association

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing 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 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 40,000 people in Great Britain.

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