Utility Week

UTILITY Week 17th March 2017

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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UTILITY WEEK | 17TH - 23RD MARCH 2017 | 25 Operations & Assets David Porter, chief executive, Rivers Agency "There's an awful lot of talk about climate change, and about more frequent flood- ing in recent times. I think a more signifi- cant change is the fact that society is now much more affluent, so whenever a flood happens the cost of that is much more significant than it was in the past." Sara Venning, chief executive, Northern Ireland Water "Digital can transform how we do busi- ness. Our customers and stakeholders expect some of their relationship with us to be through digital channels, and we can harness digital fur- ther to empower our employees and really improve how we liaise with stakeholders." Anthony Cox, deputy director, environment directorate, OECD "There is a marked mismatch between the political cycle and the water infrastruc- ture investment cycle [in Northern Ireland]. However, experience from around the world would show that giving water providers a greater degree of financial and operational inde- pendence has often been a beneficial step in reducing the politi- cal obstacles." 1. Partnership – collaboration is needed between all parties involved in the NI water sector to ensure the successful delivery of exceptional service to customers and to address sustainability and environmental issues. 2. Long-term planning – a lack of funding certainty means NI Water, and the wider water sector, must plan. 3. Employee engagement – to ensure the future high standard of delivery to customers, NI Water needs the right number of people with the right skills in the right place at the right time. Employee engagement is paramount. 4. Innovation – companies, including NI Water, are expected to innovate to outperform their settlements. The Utility Regulator is committed to a hands-off approach, and says it will let the companies get on with it themselves. 5. The rise of digital – new digital technologies can transform the way water companies do business, as it facilitates new ways to engage with customers, stakeholders, and employees. Five key points Brian McHugh, finance and network assets director, Utility Regulator "We are very keen to get out of the way in terms of innovation. We see our role as understanding when there are regulatory blockages… which would prevent com- panies from innovat- ing. We then leave it in the hands of the companies to decide what risks that they want to take." Gordon Reid, wastewater service strategy manager, Scottish Water "We need to think about how we trans- form our asset base to be more sustainable. How can we take advantage of new technologies for treat- ment to drive down energy use? Just under half of Scottish Water's carbon foot- print comes from the wastewater systems."

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