Meet our members - Jeffrey Hardy – Core Group member, Sustainability Working Group Lead and Resilience & Reliability Working Group member

From the moment I spoke to Ann Bishop I knew this was going to be an important and rewarding experience. It has not disappointed.

I’m a member of the Customer Engagement Group (CEG) Core Group and I also lead a fantastic Sustainability Working Group. Our job is to ensure UK Power Networks takes account of its customers’ needs, values and priorities in its business plan for the period 2023-2028. The Core Group looks at the business plan and supporting evidence in its entirety and the Sustainability Group takes a narrower focus on environmental impact and the role of UK Power Networks in the net-zero transition.

As a customer myself, UK Power Networks are my third network operator. I started life in Cumbria with Electricity Northwest, then spent eleven years in York with Northern Powergrid and for the last fifteen years I’ve been living in south London. During that time, the UK electricity system has undergone a profound change from one dominated by coal to one increasingly dominated by renewables. And this is just the beginning – the UK is on a thirty-year journey to a zero-carbon economy and this will change not only how electricity is generated and transported, but completely transform how homes and businesses are heated and the entire transportation system.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of this decarbonisation journey for the last twenty years or so. I’ve seen it from multiple perspectives including as a regulator and policymaker at Ofgem, as a business in my role as a Board member of a renewable energy developer and as an academic, including my current role in the Energy Revolution Research Centre exploring smart local energy systems. I’m also undergoing my own journey, turning my home into a power station.

These last twenty years have demonstrated to me that Distribution Network Operators like UK Power Networks have a crucial role in the zero-carbon transformation. Much of the ‘action’ will be in their patch. A good chunk of zero-carbon electricity generation and pretty much all of the electric vehicles and zero-carbon electric heating will be connected to distribution networks. These are not just new sources of supply and demand, they are also potentially valuable resources to help manage the flow of electricity across networks, which in turn could reduce the size of the future investment in networks required.

This entails a different relationship between network operators and their customers in the future. Their role is not just to help customers connect and maintain a reliable network, but also to facilitate new markets for these flexibility services. It’s also about helping those who can’t afford or are unable to be part of this zero-carbon journey. A just transition is one where no-one is left behind.

My own journey has led me to this point and I’m passionate about these issues. It’s why I said yes to this role on the CEG and why I volunteered to lead our work on Sustainability. UK Power Networks is a company that is equally passionate about these issues and I see the work of our group as helping to push them even further and as fast as their customers, who are equally environmentally minded, desire.

And that’s the heart of it for me. A customer-centred business is one that delivers what its customers need and value. It is also one that occasionally delights you as a customer. It will definitely be one that delivers on its role to facilitate the zero-carbon transformation.