24/11/2019: Lots of distractions to deflect late autumn blues

It’s been a few weeks since my last update, but there has been quite a bit going on. Even before one takes into account all the nonsense around the general election.

First, some news. I am delighted to have been appointed to the UKPN core Consumer Engagement Group (the core bit relates to the three geographical areas served by it, rather than the three supporting DNO area groups), and I am looking forward to my first meeting proper tomorrow. The group is being led by Indepen’s Ann Bishop, and it should be fun working with Ann, Peter Atherton, Goran Strbac, Jeff Hardy and others.

The workstream is part of the company’s response to a pan network company initiative launched by Ofgem to support engagement with and challenge, where appropriate, to the company’s RIIO-2 submissions and settlement. As a long-time advocate of negotiated settlement and inclusivity, I am very pleased to be part of it, and UKPN seem to be doing a great job facilitating a dynamic and inclusive process.

A couple of dates for diaries.

First, I am arranging an event on energy and climate change governance to deliver the 2050 net zero target in central London. This is being supported by the Association for Distributed Energy and in collaboration with E3G associate, Simon Skillings, on 27 February. This is another issue I have been pushing on social media, especially the need for bespoke coordinated bottom-up local plans that bring together local stakeholders and deliver alignment across sectors (heat, transport but also land use and agriculture).

I am delighted to be working also with Catherine Mitchell. Laura Sandys and Jeff Hardy (and others) will also be involved. In Catherine’s case, the event will occur shortly after her retirement from Exeter University and she will be distilling learnings and implications from the great work on sectoral governance done by her and her colleagues at Exeter under the YouGov project.

Second, I am also supporting an event to be organised by Low Carbon Homes on domestic energy efficiency/response, retrofitting and behavioural change in Norwich on 6 May. The built environment and achieving emissions reductions in it has a crucial role to play in delivering net zero. New build is receiving a degree of attention with the Future Homes Standard and with Passivhaus developments such as Norwich’s award-winning Goldsmith Street development, but many existing GB properties are extremely energy inefficient both in absolute terms and compared with many other European jurisdictions. Organisations like Low Carbon Homes and Carbon Coop are actively improving awareness and helping to build local retrofit networks, and this plays into the Just Transition debate, which is only really just beginning to get off the ground. It is also relevant to my work around Smarter Norwich and behind the meter innovation.

Details of both events should be posted next week.

On Smarter Norwich, the site surveys for locating my first 30kW of storage batteries are now underway, and we are actively looking at increasing the existing PV at Hamptons Barn. The installation of home energy monitors is a bit behind schedule, but we are examining a range of CAD/IHD options to support the work we are hoping to do with Verv Energy and are poised to place some new orders shortly.

I have also joined the board of Norwich Community Solar, and we are looking at local collaboration opportunities.

Again, looking behind the meter, my modification proposal for “meter splitting” P379 continues its progress through industry assessment, and two workable solutions have been defined and detailed use cases developed. The next working group meeting is 3 December and shortly after that meaningful evaluation of costs and benefits will commence.

I continue to build the New Anglia Energy social media profile. The number of twitter followers is touching 1,200, and engagement levels are excellent. Traffic through the www.newangliaenergy.co.uk website is also growing steadily. My recent comment on Ofgem’s residual network charging TCR (although hurried – the comment, not the decision) proved quite a hit, with nearly 250 visits alone. I will now probably turn this into a more substantive critique over the coming days. Ofgem’s decision has all the hallmarks of its triad decision (blinkered and dismissive of feedback), but the timing during an election campaign and coming midway between setting the net zero target and CoP26 could not have been worse.