13/07/15: Electricity North West celebrates five years of powering the region
- Fewer power cuts
- Investment up
- Bills down
This week marks five years since Electricity North West took on full operation of the region’s power network from United Utilities. In that time the company has spent more than £1.4 billion investing in the network and keeping the lights on for millions of residents and businesses across the region.
As well as reducing power cuts by a third, last year Electricity North West restored twice as many customers within five minutes compared to 2010 thanks to significant investment in automation on the network. Since 2010, the company has handled 80,000 customer enquiries, helped lower electricity bills by £20 through efficiencies and has invested £29m in groundbreaking innovation and technology.
Steve Johnson, CEO, has been at the helm since 2008. “We have come a long way and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the past five years,” says Steve.
“When I joined Electricity North West we had just 100 employees, then in 2010 we brought more than 1000 engineers and other operational employees in-house and away from United Utilities.
“Now we have more than 1,600 employees – from overhead linespeople, to tree cutters to call centre advisors and we have created a leading company not only in the North West, but within the electricity industry.”
Around 20 percent of a typical household electricity bill goes to the local network operator, to fund maintenance and investment in the network, a figure agreed by each regional network with its regulator, Ofgem. Along with lowering its part of the bill for customers by £20 from April this year, Electricity North West was also recently recognised by Ofgem as being the most efficient network operator in Great Britain.
“We’re efficient, we’re lowering energy bills and we’re also investing in the future,” says Steve. “We’ve invested £29m in low carbon projects to help the UK reach its carbon reduction targets through both network innovation and community engagement, and we’re recognised as leading other networks in this area.
“We’ve achieved a great deal, but there have also been many challenges we’ve had to overcome over the last five years,” said Steve Johnson. “Back in 2013 the UK was hit by 100mph winds over Christmas and Boxing Day which severely damaged our overhead power lines causing the loss of power to more than 45,000 people across the North West.
“I’m proud to say we restored 90 percent of customers within just three hours.”
The focus on the industry caused by the storms led to a plan to make it easier for customers to contact their local network in an emergency.
“From next year wherever you are in the country you’ll be able to call 105 and get through to your local network operator. It’s a great example of the industry working closely with government to provide real improvements for customers.”
“Looking to the future, the demand and use of electricity is forever increasing, due to the use of electric cars and solar panels for example,” said Steve.
“Electricity generated through renewables is the key to helping the UK reach its carbon reduction targets. We’re seeing more and more people using electricity instead of fossil fuels for things like heating and transport.
“The industry is set to change more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50, with the introduction of smart meters and greater awareness of energy efficiency, and we’re at the forefront of that change right here in the North West.”
Steve Johnson is CEO of Electricity North West and Chair of the Greater Manchester Energy Group.
Five Year Investment in North West infrastructure:
- £63m Replacing 227 miles of underground cable
- £53m Replacing overhead power lines, including 13,262 wooden poles and 153 pylons
- £16.4m Cutting back 4,600 miles of trees from power lines
- £29.2m Low carbon innovation projects
- £5m Removing 32 miles of power lines and 580 poles in national parks
- £1.4b Total investment
Other key numbers:
- 63,762 Unplanned faults restored by engineers
- 80,000 Customer enquiries handled
- 15,000 Children taught about electricity safety
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