Our responsibility as a network operator
Bev Keogh is Director of Network Service at SSEPD and she was recently asked to speak about tackling fuel poverty at a reception hosted at the House of Lords.
On Monday evening I spoke at a reception at the House of Lords hosted by National Energy Action on tackling fuel poverty.
With the new Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, fresh intake of MPs, assorted Lords and Ladies, and a wide spectrum of industry figures in attendance, I was invited to explain how electricity network operators, including SSEPD, are working to improve the quality of life for customers struggling to make ends meet.
There is a lot of positive work under way in our business to support customers and help to reduce their bills. The cost of transporting electricity to people’s homes and businesses safely, securely and reliably and how those costs are reflected in customers’ bills, is not always understood.
As a responsible company we’re committed to being open with customers and working alongside other electricity network operators to look at what we can do to help reduce bills through innovation.
As part of a trial project in the Solent area, we’re recruiting several thousand customers to educate and help them to change the way they consume energy. If we can persuade them to use less electricity or use it at different times of the day – without affecting their quality of life – by reducing demand at peak times, then we don’t have to upgrade our network to cope with the expected increase in usage, and can pass the savings on to customers.
Of course this action in itself isn’t enough. So we’ve developed partnerships with organisations – locally and nationally – including housing associations, academic institutions, local authorities, the NHS and Age UK so we can help with solutions that support vulnerable customers in the communities we serve.
For instance, if a customer relies on electricity for medical reasons, there’s a young baby at home, or someone has a disability, before a planned power cut we will proactively phone to see how we can help. And if the power cut is unplanned then they are our top priority.
There are too many examples to mention where our teams have put the needs of our customers first in their own communities. For instance, we have provided a generator for dialysis patients, taken fish suppers to elderly couples who were housebound and hired local restaurants to provide free food to customers during a power cut.
At Monday’s event, one lord with a particular interest in fuel poverty came up to me afterwards and remarked how surprised he was that we had hired local restaurants to provide free food to customers during power cuts. His response alone made the speech worthwhile.
Pictured L to R: Amber Rudd MP, Jenny Saunders NEA, Maria Wardrobe NEA and Bev Keogh SSEPD.