By Chris Clarke, South West Section Chair
IGEM members and guests from all over the country joined a packed house in Bristol in November to hear from key Ofgem and Wales & West Utilities speakers as they outlined in detail what the 2020s will hold for us.
Opening the speaker line-up at 20:20 Vision - RIIO-2, Graham Edwards, CEO of Wales & West Utilities, reflected on how performance in the current price control was exemplary in traditional areas of customer service, safety and reliability. However, he highlighted how the networks were changing, becoming more integrated with electricity networks that depend on gas generation to balance the electricity system.
James Veaney, Head of RIIO-2 Cross Sector Policy at Ofgem, said he wanted to see a reduction in costs while maintaining the excellent gains made to date in customer service; social obligations, safety and reliability.
Andrew Hopkins, Director of Asset Management at Wales & West Utilities, was up for the challenge, demonstrating how the network charges have reduced over time, revealing plans for investment over the first half of the next decade and discussing the need to continue with the excellent work done to date using innovation to improve service, reduce costs and help the decarbonisation of energy.
Beth Winter, System Operations Manager, gave a thorough update on the long-term demand forecasts, published by Wales & West Utilities just hours before. Contrary to initial thoughts, peak demand is set to rise in the 2020s as more housing, local gas generation, transport and local energy centres put pressure on a system already at full capacity, as was illustrated during the previous winter.
Finally, Lucy Mason, Innovation Manager at Wales & West Utilities, demonstrated how innovation had benefited today’s consumers and how her plans would serve those of tomorrow. Much of that innovation was then on show at the excellent exhibition stands next door.