This is what all that planning is for

23rd Mar 2020


Writing a weekly blog usually involves being topical, and given the current Coronavirus outbreak, it would be strange not to recognise it. I was struck by a couple of things this week. Firstly, a tweet from a complete stranger, that read: -

” Additional shout out to power station and distribution workers, gas, water, drainage, telecoms, and all infrastructure. We don't see you but you work tirelessly to keep the country functioning. Thank you.”

At times like this, such comments I believe, reflect the opinion of the vast majority of people in the UK, even though they may not take to Twitter to say it.

Secondly, circumstances like the one we find ourselves in, are the reason the industry spends so much time planning for emergencies. Hopefully, those plans never have to be used, but when they are, and the energy keeps flowing into people’s homes, then it is time, effort and money well spent.

Talking about money, it struck me as notable that Ofgem’s open hearings into GDNs should have started last week. Against the backdrop we find the country in, getting gas into homes for £124 a year does strike me as good value. At less than £2.50 a week, (how much do you pay for a cup of coffee at Costa?), I think the public gets good value for money. From my experience, customers also think this. We all expect that the overall rate of return to networks will be lower in GD2 compared to GD1, but if the regulator is tempted to enforce draconian targets, then it will miss the big picture. Coronavirus has shown how vulnerable our society is; how reliant it is upon public infrastructure, especially the people who keep it running. When the dust has settled and the virus combatted, I believe society will want to make sure that in future we have the capability and capacity within our systems to meet any other challenges that come our way. And if it means paying a few pence more each week, then they will do so.