Utility Week

UTILITY Week 2nd June 2017

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

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Page 6 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 2ND - 8TH JUNE 2017 | 7 Event Analysis F lexibility and transformation were the headline themes for Utility Week Live 2017. As leaders and decision-makers from the utilities sector thronged the halls of the National Exhibition Centre in Birming- ham, a rich variety of perspectives on what these challenges mean for businesses and regulators were expressed, challenged, and scrutinised across targeted seminar theatres and conference sessions. There was controversy, with speakers offering criticism of past and present price control processes for regulated monopolies, and consensus on the need for more and faster paced innovation across all utility types, to meet escalating customer expecta- tions and environmental pressures. Never far below the surface, there was acknowledgment of the critically tense politi- cal context in which these discussions were taking place. The shadows cast over the sector by the general election, manifesto pledges and the UK's departure from the EU, were palpable. But despite the uncertainty these cause, there was a strong sense of determination to get on with the business of creating new business models and exploiting new markets to deliver smart, better utility services for customers. The ability of utilities to adopt new tech- nologies strategically is integral to this plan for nimble transformation, and delegates at the show showed a keen appetite for learn- ing more about the exciting potential of advances in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain. There was an acute awareness that deploying such technologies effectively will mean drawing in unconventional skills to the sector – a tall order for firms struggling with public trust, who will need to compete for talent with desirable tech and engineer- ing brands. In light of the recent malware assault on the NHS and the tragic Manchester bombing, there was also a strong message that utili- ties must be confident that new technologies and connectivity across infrastructure and in homes will enhance resilience and security, not compromise it. The diversity and detail of the ideas exchanged at this year's show stretch fur- ther than a few pages can possibly hope to review. In this article we provide you with some snapshots, but look out for our upcom- ing special reports on Flexibility – New Models, New Markets; and Transformation – Accelerating Innovation, which will explore insights at greater length. Utility Week Live show report Flexibility and transformation were the keywords in Birmingham as the great and good of the utility industry met for the sector's leading annual exhibition and conference, Utility Week Live. "You can't hold on to how the world was yesterday." David Wright, direc- tor of transmission owner, National Grid, on flexibility and mothballing the Moorside link "We have to move away from an almost passive stakeholder engagement model." Andrew Manning, head of network regulation, British Gas criticises the RIIO price-setting process "The world will not stop at 2019." John Russell, senior director of strategy and planning, Ofwat, on the next water price control "Climate change is causing a huge threat to the resilience of our networks." Mel Karam, chief executive, Bristol Water on transfor- mation challenges What's in this article? 12 Piers Clarks speak to Utility Week about innovation and flexibility in water 12 Five things you need to know about PR19 13 HyDeploy's ambitions for gas grid decarbonisation 13 Leaders define the utility of the future

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