Utility Week

UTILITY Week 9th September 2016

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6 | 9TH - 15TH SEPTEMBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK People & Opinion 105 is a milestone for the industry DNOs have pulled out all the stops to launch a single, national three-digit emergency number. Chief executive's view David Smith, chief executive, ENA I n the UK we benefit from one of the most reliable and resilient electricity networks anywhere in the world. Network companies are aware of the vital role that they play in people's daily lives and work all year round to limit power cuts and minimise any disruption for cus- tomers. They are also commit- ted to ensuring that if customers do lose power they are able to receive up to date information, advice and support if necessary. A consequence of having such a reliable network is that most people rarely have a need to contact their network opera- tor and may not know which company it is, or what number to contact them on. Research by Energy Networks Association found that 72 per cent of peo- ple don't know who to contact during a power cut, with many wrongly thinking they should call the electricity supplier they pay their bill to. Only 21 per cent of the peo- ple surveyed said they would contact their electricity network operator in a power cut, yet, of these, only 11 per cent could cor- rectly name their local operator. The regional variety in contact numbers across different net- work companies has added to the confusion and prevented a clear, national message around who to call when the lights go out. Having identified this prob- lem, network companies have worked together to develop a solution and improve the service they offer customers; a single, national, three-digit telephone number for the general public to contact their distribution net- work operator (DNO). From 6 September customers in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to call 105 to report or get information about a power cut. Customers can also call 105 if they spot damage to electricity power lines and substations that could put anyone in danger. The number will be free to call and available from most landlines and mobile phones. It doesn't matter who you choose to buy your electricity from – anyone can call 105. The new number will come into operation along- side all existing channels which customers can currently use to contact their DNO, including 0800 numbers, websites and social media. Despite being a relatively simple concept, the delivery of a three-digit number is a surpris- ingly complex undertaking, with similar projects in other sectors taking over five years to deliver a three-digit service. The launch of 105 will be the culmination of a two-year collaboration between network companies with the involvement of the wider energy industry, government, regula- tors, telecoms providers and oth- ers. That the electricity networks will be launching 105 in such a relatively short time is testament to the importance the industry places on the work to enhance communication with custom- ers. Network companies and the regulator, Ofgem, recognise the importance of customer service as a measure of performance and the sector consistently dem- onstrates a high levels of cus- tomer satisfaction. The launch of the 105 service is an oppor- tunity to build on that strong performance. For anyone not involved in the network industry, this article may be the first time you have heard of the new 105 number. Over the coming months I hope that you will be seeing a lot more of 105 as we begin the campaign to raise public awareness of the important new service. The memorability of the three-digit number will be supported by a strong, identifiable 105 brand, and a national awareness cam- paign to cement the number in people's minds and help improve public understanding of who to call when the lights go out. This is also an opportunity for the networks to raise their profile and improve awareness of this vital sector and the role it plays in underpinning our econ- omy and society; as well as the role network companies play in responding when power cuts do occur. People will be able to see the connection between the 105 number and the unsung heroes of the energy industry who respond to the call and work, oen in extremely difficult con- ditions, to restore the power to our homes. Though rare, power cuts can be distressing and sometimes have very serious safety and welfare implications for the pub- lic. 105 will help people receive important information and advice when they lose power. It is a very worthwhile undertak- ing and a service which network operators are proud to have delivered for customers.

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