Utility Week

UTILITY Week 17th July 2015

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20 | 17TH - 23RD JULY 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Conference Gas and Power Asset Management, 2 July 2015 Operations & Assets Networks do the business GDNs and DNOs are still managing to outper- form their targets and innovate for the future. I nnovation is "alive and kicking" among the gas distribution networks (GDNs), at least according to Ofgem senior manager of smarter grids and governance Robert Beavis. Opening the presentations at Utility Week's Gas and Power Asset Management conference, sponsored by Fugro Roames, in Birmingham on 2 July, Beavis gave an over- view of how the GDNs had performed so far under RIIO-GD1, the network price control period for the gas networks, which is now in its third year. He said the GDNs had outperformed their allowances by carrying out services for a lower cost than the price control allowed, meaning they get a "64 per cent slice" of the outperformance and customers got a 36 per cent share. This, he concluded, was "good news for consumers". However, National Grid Gas Distribution business change specialist Robert Cairns warned that networks must "share learning" from innovation projects with one another to avoid duplication of research areas and keep consumers' bills down. He also advised the networks to "be mindful of the future net- work" when working on projects incorporat- ing new technologies. Delegates were told that technology is advancing at a rapid pace to make things more remote and move field crews into offices. But how far will things go? In a panel debate, a delegate posed the question: "Have we already cracked the potential of this as What they said a way to manage our infrastructure?" Fugro Roames managing director James Bangay responded: "I think we have just dipped our toes into the start of something really quite revolutionary." Ben Willis, RWE Npower's corporate development and strategy manager, took to the podium to offer a generator's point of view, criticising the Treasury for "not help- ing anyone but themselves" by capping the carbon price floor at £18/tonne, and slam- ming the government for "distorting delivery of the most economic form of generation" by cutting Renewables Obligation support for onshore wind. Willis argued that generators and suppli- ers suffer from a "lack of clarity and a lack of trust", and he highlighted the need for an Office of Energy, a new "institutional role" independent from government, to enhance confidence in the industry. Looking to the future, speakers gave reasons to be optimistic. Although there are areas in GD1 which could benefit from improvement, the price control framework has, overall, been a great success, with GDNs outperforming their targets through improv- ing network safety and customer service as well as embracing new technologies and innovations. The networks must now look ahead to the next set of price controls in 2021, which Beavis pointed out is "already in the sight line". Learnings must be taken for- ward to improve gas networks' performance still further for the advent of GD2. LV Alasdair Grainger, senior policy adviser, Department of Energy and Climate Change " They [ministers] don't like windfarms, they're pretty clear on that. They certainly don't like subsidised windfarms. This is one of the clear early priorities for this gov- ernment. Manifestos are often written with a bit of wriggle room inserted for good measure. That's not the case here; it's a pretty clear signal." Robert Beavis, senior manager, smarter grids and governance, Ofgem "We are now able to sit down with com-

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