Energy UK – the UK Energy Industry’s leading Trade Association
Energy UK is the trade association for the energy industry 100+ members, including the UK’s largest suppliers – from established FTSE 100 companies to new, growing suppliers, generators and service providers across energy, technology, transport and heat. It represents most of the energy sector, excluding networks and upstream oil and gas. Energy UK’s members deliver almost 80% of the UK’s power generation and over 95% of the energy supply for the 28 million UK homes and many businesses.
The Brief / challenge
Back in 2006, against a backdrop of Government interest in ‘Advanced Energy Meters’, Energy UK’s then members (largely the ‘Big 6’ incumbent energy suppliers) brought in Engage Consulting’s market-leading experts to help shape the development of what we now refer to as ‘smart meters’.
The brief – develop a set of Supplier Requirements for Smart Metering (a project name that endured for many years) as a vehicle to ensure that energy suppliers were at the forefront of the technical, regulatory and policy development for smart meters.
Between 2006 and 2010, Engage’s team of six consultants worked alongside energy suppliers to deliver the Smart Metering Operational Framework that would be key in influencing Government for their decision making on the eventual functionality and capability of the next generation of energy meters to hit the UK market.
From 2010 until circa 2017, the Engage team continued to work with a vast array of industry stakeholders as part of the initial joint Ofgem/BEIS implementation programme to help develop and deliver the complex regulatory and governance frameworks that continue to underpin how smart meters are operated in the ever-changing GB retail energy market.
With the Government’s 2017 smart rollout commencement date approaching, the Engage team shifted much of its focus to technical assurance, working directly with energy suppliers to identify technical and operational issues associated with the smart metering technical specifications, and presenting these on a collective basis to the now BEIS-led implementation programme for resolution.
Around that same time, BEIS asked Energy UK to develop a new set of industry reporting requirements to help track the quality and safety of some 50-plus million smart meter installations over the next 5-6 years. Engage’s consultants quickly stepped into action and led cross-industry discussions to agree the most appropriate metrics that would enable Government and industry to quickly identify areas of weakness in suppliers’ installation processes that could ultimately result in destroying public confidence in the smart meter rollout.
As a result of this highly-important work, a new cross-industry monthly Health & Safety Reporting process was established, with data being provided on a monthly basis by gas and electricity network operators, energy suppliers and third-party meter installation companies. To support this work, Engage’s consultants were then asked to Chair a formal cross-party Health & Safety Group whose role was to monitor positive and negative trends in supplier/meter operator performance, develop and implement improvement plans, and facilitate cross-supplier knowledge sharing, all with the ultimate aim of improving collective performance. This reporting mechanism has now been in place for six years and remains a key focus for the smart meter rollout.
- Stakeholder management: the ability to dissect views, opinions and company positions from a hugely complex number of industry parties (and especially multiple competing energy suppliers) and present a collective voice to Government and regulators;
- Policy development: our consultants have written over 100 formal consultation responses on behalf of Energy UK and its members, lobbying on key policy development and decisions to facilitate the world’s leading and most ambitious cross-fuel smart meter rollout programme;
- Technical Assurance: identifying weaknesses and defects with the technical specifications and operational processes, and leading cross-industry discussions to develop and implement issue resolution and change requests;
- Gap Analysis: carrying out a gap analysis to identify additional policy development requirements to help ensure all consumers were able to benefit from smart meters. This led to the introduction of the world’s first in-home smart meter display specifically designed to meet the needs of Blind and Partially-Sighted consumers. Our work here also identified the need for a centrally co-ordinated marketing campaign to support the smart meter rollout, which eventually led to the formation of Smart Energy GB;
- Reporting development: developing and agreeing key Health & Safety related metrics, formalising a cross-industry reporting framework, and securing reporting commitments from multiple industry participants on a voluntary basis.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Engage’s consultants for over six years on a large, complex, wide-ranging, technical and challenging project of critical importance to our members and government. They have been proactive, knowledgeable and have used their excellent judgment and instinct to help us build and manage the trusting relationships we rely on to do our work, spanning many different parties and including government officials.