Meet our members – Anne van Schrader, Core Group member, Sustainability Working Group member and Customer Working Group member

I joined the Customer Engagement Group (CEG) for UK Power Networks because I want to better understand our zero carbon transition at a time when climate change and creating a greener, better future is front of mind for us all. We’re living through unprecedented times, driven by a technology revolution that is changing the way consumers interact, shop and think; and a global pandemic that will affect us in ways we cannot yet imagine.

Having worked for one of the leading global payment networks and with varying sizes of fintechs, I’ve seen first-hand how digital transformation has changed how we shop and pay. I remember explaining to journalists in 2012 how contactless payments would make everyday shopping more convenient as it seemed then that traditional chip and pin worked just fine. Who would have thought that – just eight years on – nearly 1 billion contactless payments would be made per month for everyday transactions?

What’s exciting and interesting about the energy sector is the impact it has on us today and for future generations. People are taking stock of how their life choices affect the planet and its fragile ecosystem whilst also benefitting from pioneering developments such as electric vehicles and battery technology as they go mainstream.

UK Power Networks’ 2023-2028 business plan is a key step in achieving net zero emissions in 2050, and the organisation’s evolution as an electricity distribution network will significantly impact much of the UK population and its communities. That won’t happen overnight – today, the pace of change is driven by consumer demand and new technologies, and taking a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works. Consumers demand and expect more and have varying needs. One person might be happy charging their vehicle overnight at little cost – mindful of how their choices impact the environment; whilst another might prefer the convenience of a faster, more expensive charge. Transportation is part of it but there are other big topics such as the heating of our homes and businesses and how and where we generate and store electricity whilst taking into account air pollution and improving energy efficiency - all need to be looked at through the consumer lens.

The successful transition to a low carbon economy requires innovation that is both relevant and impactful whilst supporting our vulnerable population. It’s important that UK Power Networks develops a workable plan to ensure that future consumer needs are met whilst opportunities to leapfrog are realised, costs are optimised and the value delivered by UK Power Networks is recognised.

Having introduced contactless and mobile and e-commerce payment solutions to market, I know these changes won’t happen overnight and that stakeholder engagement will be key to success. For UK Power Networks, this means continuing large-scale engagement programmes with businesses and their customers. My focus will be on representing the voice of the customer and the correct use of digital technologies to ensure that UK Power Networks meets the needs of the broadest spectrum of customers in an increasingly digital world. That means having solutions to help the vulnerable and that meet the evolving needs of communities across three regions.

Thusfar, I’ve been impressed by UK Power Networks’ vulnerability agenda and the workarounds and solutions implemented as part of business as usual by listening carefully to customers and stakeholders. Other projects – such as the work to reduce air pollution for Transport for London – demonstrates the breadth of the company’s stakeholder engagement. I’m looking forward to getting involved in the months to come!