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John Howard appointed as chair of new customer engagement group


We are delighted to announce the appointment of industry heavyweight John Howard as chair of our new RIIO-ED2 Customer Engagement Group (CEG).

The next price control period, RIIO-ED2, starts in 2023 and we are undertaking an ambitious stakeholder engagement programme across our two licence areas so that our plans are led by insight from the 3.5 million customers we serve. We are forming the CEG to oversee the development of our next business plan, which will be submitted to the energy regulator, Ofgem, for approval in 2021.

The CEG will play a crucial role in scrutinising our engagement with stakeholders, ensuring our business plan is robust by challenging priorities and understandings of the changes occurring in the energy industry at a national and local level. It will also review our investment proposals and innovation strategies, future network requirements and the support available for vulnerable customers.

Newly appointed chair, John Howard, has had a distinguished 19-year career in regulated industries and consumer affairs. Following 20 years as an award-winning consumer journalist with the BBC, John was appointed as a non-executive director at Ofgem, where he was a member of Ofgem’s RIIO-ED1 Price Control Committee. He also helped formulate the regulator’s definition of consumer vulnerability, a key priority for us in RIIO-ED2.

John is a former Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, and now chairs the advisory board of the Transparency Task Force – a worldwide organisation pressing for greater openness in financial services.

As chair of the independent CEG, John will lead the group’s interaction with us and Ofgem, as well as leading on the production of the CEG’s assessment report which will be submitted to Ofgem’s Customer Challenge Group alongside our business plan.

John Howard said: "The electricity sector in the UK is undergoing a rapid transformation to meet ambitious carbon reduction targets, harness new technologies and facilitate the growth of electric vehicles. The electricity networks of the future must operate in a fair, efficient and transparent manner, protecting the interests of all consumers.

“The Customer Engagement Group will be independent but work closely with representatives from SP Energy Networks and the energy regulator Ofgem. It is a new and important group which will challenge whether the company’s RIIO-ED2 business plan addresses the needs and preferences of its customers and report back to Ofgem."

Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks said: "I'm pleased to welcome someone of John’s caliber to chair our Customer Engagement Group. We wanted to ensure that the chair would possess two key attributes - senior leadership experience in the energy industry and a strong consumer background. John has an impressive track-record spanning many years in both areas.

"We have taken an open and inclusive attitude to our business activities in RIIO-ED1, with our strategic direction shaped by our customers and stakeholders. Our goal for the next price control period is to take this approach a step further, producing a plan that keeps costs down while enabling the transition to smarter, more flexible networks. Our CEG will play a fundamental role in challenging us to achieve this vision – I look forward to working closely with John and the wider group once they are appointed in the coming weeks."

One of the first tasks John will be involved in is advising us on the recruitment of the CEG membership, with the applications opening in the coming weeks.

To find out more about our RIIO business planning, click here: RIIO-T2: Planning for the Future

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