Utility Week

UW October Digital edition

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UTILITY WEEK | OCTOBER 2020 | 13 Build Back Better UtilityWeek T he impact of Covid-19 has sparked many initiatives across the utilities sector but few as cute as Griddles, an angelic-looking teddy bear who's "looking aer the staff " at National Grid. Nicola Shaw, executive director of National Grid, fills us in: "We had people away from their homes for weeks, living and working on site at our control rooms. Now they can tell their families when they're on video calls at night, 'I'm OK, I've got Griddles to look aer me.'" The little bear makes a brief appearance in our interview on the broad theme of Build- ing Back Better when Shaw holds him up to her screen. She's currently working from home – her last day before a staycation in Yorkshire, the planned trip to Santa Fe fall- ing victim to Covid. "He's now got all sorts of jobs. During lockdown he delivered laptops to schools and to some hospitals. He's also got a new book out, where he becomes an apprentice working for National Grid!" What his next job might be is anyone's guess, but unless he can morph into Griddles the Grizzly, it will certainly take more than his cuddly charm to have any effect on his employer's current bête noir, Ofgem, which if National Grid is to be believed is on course to undermine any chance of Building Back Better. When the interview took place, Shaw and her colleagues were gearing up to pub- lish the evidence it was sending to Ofgem to persuade the regulator to rethink its dra T2 determination. The FTSE-100 utility group is at odds with Ofgem over its dra price set- tlement, which from 2021 would halve its returns to just under 4 per cent and would disallow £5 billion of pounds of proposed investment. In fact, it is going full out, all-guns blaz- ing, to win these skirmishes. In the past few days Shaw's boss, CEO John Pettigrew, has been doing the media rounds explaining why Ofgem's plans would increase risks to security of supply, destroy jobs and hamper efforts to tackle climate change. Pettigrew told The Times that National Grid was pre- pared for the first time to appeal against the determination to the Competition and Mar- kets Authority if Ofgem did not relent. In her calm and assured manner, Shaw is now disseminating the same message. "Unless Ofgem moves, we've got some really quite significant issues. I'm worried about the economic recovery, because I think it will slow down our ability to invest, to cre- UK utilities in the world beyond coronavirus In the wake of the pandemic, the UK's energy and water companies – and their supply chains – must assume an active and dynamic role in powering a green economic recovery from coro- navirus and help the nation to "Build Back Better". In fact a host of utility leaders were among the 200 business heads signed up to a pan-industry letter delivered to Boris Johnson back in June. Over the past few weeks Utility Week has been exploring through interviews, comment pieces, analyses and case studies how water and energy firms hope to unlock a wave of essential infrastructure invest- ment which will create jobs, as well as an acceleration to market of new business models that can empower consumers to live more sustainably and affordably. Our Build Back Better campaign has also touched upon how utilities have been taking on board lessons from the crisis around their own agil- ity, flexibility and resilience in the face of challenge in order to build back better businesses for the future. All of our coverage can be found online: utilityweek.co.uk/tag/build- back-better/ The Build Back Better Forum We will be exploring many of these important themes – the challenges and tensions utilities face in their transition to net zero, striking new social contracts and reshape their businesses for the future – at our Build Back Better Forum on 20-21 October. Nicola Shaw will be one of the speakers. event.utilityweek.co.uk/buildbackbetter/ continued overleaf

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