New vision includes £20 million Foundation fund

New foundation

UK Power Networks has set out how it will ensure nobody is left behind in the transition to Net Zero, by planning a new £20 million Foundation to support communities.

The fund is among many new initiatives in the firm’s £4.6 billion Business Plan for 2023-2028 to Ofgem, which has been submitted to industry regulator Ofgem.

The number of ‘fuel poor’ customers struggling to pay their energy bills in London, the East and South East is now over 900,000 so the company is taking a twin track approach of reducing its part of the energy bill and targeting investment where it is needed – while at the same time helping the most vulnerable people in society.

The UK Power Networks Foundation will include £9 million to help 500,000 customers in or at risk of entering, fuel poverty. The remaining £11 million will be part of a social fund to help customers in vulnerable circumstances through the energy transition to Net Zero.

The firm’s plan also includes:

  • 15% reduction (in real terms) in its part of the energy bill whilst increasing investment in the networks, to set the lowest cost pathway to Net Zero
  • Enabling people to connect low carbon technologies including increasing numbers of Electric Vehicles and heat pumps, and support chargepoint installers to connect rapid EV chargers every 30 miles across its footprint area
  • A Local Area Energy Planning framework co-developed with regional authorities and relevant to the energy issues they face. The firm’s dedicated team would help 127 councils use this framework to convert ‘climate emergencies’ into practical plans
  • Creating a new £12 million Digital Skills Academy to build best-in-class specialist energy system and digital skills, deliver 510 NVQs in leadership and management, and 200 industry-accredited apprenticeships
  • Ensuring all customers in vulnerable circumstances only need to register once for the free extra help available under Priority Services, through new automated links with other utilities
  • Introducing a new Social Contract bringing together all its commitments in one place, and updating its Articles of Association to embed a clear public interest commitment

The firm, which employs 6,000 staff, is a Top 25 UK employer and earlier this year it became the first network operator to partner with the Levelling Up Goals initiative to promote equal opportunities for employees and the local communities it serves.

Director of strategy and customer service Sul Alli says: “Our plan with the foundation very clearly builds on our Vision to be a respected and trusted corporate citizen, acting in the best interests of our customers and the communities we serve. These new initiatives demonstrate how social purpose is at the heart of all we do, and align with our ambition to be the most socially and environmentally- responsible network operator.”

He added that the Plan also has the flexibility to adapt so that the electricity network enables low carbon technologies like heat pumps and electric cars to be used, regardless of the speed and scale that they are adopted by the public.

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