Openness and Transparency

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Being open and transparent is a prerequisite to being a good business. Our stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology value and demand openness and transparency across everything we do, and we have engaged extensively to develop our strategy to deliver this.

We have the privilege of being the only company responsible for our region’s local power network and we are committed to upholding the high standards of openness and transparency that this responsibility brings.

For us to do this effectively and properly, there are two core matters we must address. The first is being open about our business operations and the second is being clear about some of the data we have and sharing it openly so others can use it for the good of our communities.

Stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology have told us it is essential that we demonstrate this openness and transparency as we move into our next business planning period (2023-2028). They have also told us that the more accessible and open the data we share, the better. This will allow them to make informed decisions, enable planning, support flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network and, when it comes to the facilitation of connections, foster competition.

Our focus will be in the following areas:

  • competition and markets – to deliver our distribution system operator (DSO)A distribution system operator (DSO) securely operates and develops an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources (DER). As a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible market, it will enable competitive access and optimal use of DER on distribution networks, to deliver security, sustainability and affordability in the support of whole-system optimisation. A DSO enables customers to be both producers and consumers, enabling customer access to networks and markets, increasing customer choice and facilitating great customer service and decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods commitments, we will provide more timely, detailed and open network data;i
  • transparent processes and procurement – we will develop our commercial function to actively stimulate flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network markets and govern the processes we use to appraise flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network and network solutions;ii
  • collaboration – we will develop our long-term planning processes to become even more collaborative with local stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology , and enhance our engagement with key partnersOrganisations with whom we collaborate on projects and operations within our regions and our sector at the regional level, to support the local growth and net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing agendas; and;
  • accountability – delivery of our business plan commitments and ongoing engagement will be scrutinised by our customer engagement group (CEG).An independent group that scrutinises and challenges our business plan and engagement activities to ensure the interests and needs of our customers are reflected iii

Customers will see the following outcomes:

  • comprehensive open data Customers may use data to assess network capacity ahead of installing low-carbon technology or assess the forecasts we are making about the increase in heat pumps. Making data available is a key part of how we can support customers in the shift to net zero offerings that include access to non-personal network and utilisation data;
  • a suite of online analysis tools to support customer data use;
  • new commercial functions to stimulate flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network markets, procure flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network and govern investment appraisal process;
  • enhanced and transparent corporate governance and sustainability frameworks; and
  • increased competition.

Actions we will undertake to achieve these outcomes will include:

  • ensuring our CEG can scrutinise our engagement activities and business plan delivery;
  • extending our reporting framework to include annual reports for DSO approach, CEG findings, our environmental action plan (EAP) and our service for vulnerable customers A customer may be defined as vulnerable in line with Ofgem’s vulnerable customer definition. This includes those that rely on medical equipment, have a critical medical condition, require on an alternative communication method and have a long, short term or age related support requirement.;
  • ensuring all reports are more accessible by making them available on our website and writing them in plain English;
  • reporting on and publishing our internal processes for investment appraisal of flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network solutions and Network reinforcement Reinforcement is where we invest customers’ money to improve network capacity. Sometimes we will seek to defer or delay this using other techniques – such as flexibility – to provide better value for money for customers in ways that demonstrate our flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network-first commitment;
  • enhancing engagement with key regional partnersOrganisations with whom we collaborate on projects and operations within our regions and our sector to support the local growth agenda;
  • working with suppliers in pursuit of our net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing targets;
  • working closely with trade union representatives to promote our workforce resilience and safety programmes;
  • reducing our input services to allow Independent connection providers (ICPs) ICPs are independent companies that are licensed to carry out network connections works on behalf of customers on distribution networks operated by DNOs or IDNOs and Independent distribution network operators (IDNOs) IDNOs are companies separate to DNOs that are licensed by Ofgem to develop and operate new distribution networks to compete more widely;
  • delivering new data interfacesPlatforms and channels through which we present data openly to our stakeholders providing services for stakeholders People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology to engage with our data in an accessible format; and
  • developing a responsible procurement policyiv and supporting responsible procurement charter to drive initiatives such as sustainability and decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods in our supply chain.

Benefits:

  • increased transparency;
  • flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network marketplace created to support flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network-first net zero Achieving a balance between greenhouse gas emissions being produced (including carbon dioxide) and greenhouse gas emissions being taken out of the atmosphere (e.g. by planting more trees) so that, overall, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is no longer increasing approach;
  • faster and cheaper connections;
  • faster and cheaper route to decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods;
  • increased competition with greater choice for consumers; and
  • increased sustainable procurement.

i A distribution system operator (DSO)A distribution system operator (DSO) securely operates and develops an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources (DER). As a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible market, it will enable competitive access and optimal use of DER on distribution networks, to deliver security, sustainability and affordability in the support of whole-system optimisation. A DSO enables customers to be both producers and consumers, enabling customer access to networks and markets, increasing customer choice and facilitating great customer service securely operates and develops an active distribution system comprising networks, demand, generation and other flexible distributed energy resources (DER). As a neutral facilitator of an open and accessible market it will enable competitive access to markets and the optimal use of DER on distribution networks to deliver security, sustainability and affordability in the support of whole-system optimisation. A DSO enables customers to be both producers and consumers, enabling customer access to networks and markets, customer choice and great customer service.

ii A flexible energy market, or flexible market, is where generation and/or consumption patterns are modified in reaction to an external signal (such as a change in price) to provide a service within the energy system.

iii The customer engagement group (CEG)An independent group that scrutinises and challenges our business plan and engagement activities to ensure the interests and needs of our customers are reflected will play a key role in developing and quality-assuring the development of Northern Powergrid’s 2023-2028 business plan. The group independently scrutinises and challenges Northern Powergrid’s business plan, the quality of engagement undertaken to inform it and helps to ensure that customers’ needs and preferences are reflected. It operates in an open and transparent way and will publish a report of its findings. The CEG also works with the Ofgem Consumer Challenge Group. It provides assurance to Ofgem that Northern Powergrid’s business plan reflects regional interests, understands and addresses customer needs and preferences, and is driven by delivering for customers in an evolving and growing low-carbon energy landscape.

iv Our responsible procurement policy will see us seek goods, services and works in a way that achieves value for money on a whole-life basis and generates benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society, the economy and the environment.

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