UK Power Networks is set to accelerate towards net zero as part of its next business plan, which it has now submitted to Ofgem.
The £4.6 billion plan covers the years from 2023-2028, and while the company doesn’t plan to achieve all of its net zero goals by the end of it, UK Power Networks is putting into place safeguards to ensure that nobody is left behind in the transition.
As part of this safeguarding plan, UK Power Networks has committed to founding a new £20 million Foundation to support communities. The Foundation will include £9 million to help 500,000 customers in or at risk of entering fuel poverty, while 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 cost of achieving net zero has been a worry for many, as the need to adopt new technologies to allow for decarbonisation comes at a hefty expense. While the Government promised to help out with the Green Homes Grant, the take-up of the scheme was appalling, with the scheme subsequently dropped like a lead balloon.
However, while the cost of getting to net zero won’t be cheap, UK Power Networks said that it will likely lead to cheaper energy bills. In fact, the company is set to cut its portion of the energy bill by 15% in real terms, while increasing its investment in the network.
That increased investment is already being seen, with the company upgrading older infrastructure to get ready for the onslaught of heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers. Residents in Purfleet recently received a new transformer as part of UK Power Networks’ existing upgrade programme, but there are no signs that upgrades like these are going to slow down anytime soon.
In fact, UK Power Networks is setting up a Local Area Energy Planning framework co-developed with regional authorities to assess the energy issues they face. The firm’s dedicated team would help 127 councils use this framework to convert ‘climate emergencies’ into practical plans.
Additionally, UK Power Networks has confirmed that it will create 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
While UK Power Networks would describe its new business plan as ambitious, the final decision is down to Ofgem, which will now consider the plan.