Western Power Distribution (WPD) is going to invest £6 billion in its network in the run up to net zero by 2050.
In the DNO’s first draft of its 2023-2028 RIIO-ED2 business plan, it has laid out 67 core commitments to ensure it meets the needs of its customers, delivers an environmentally sustainable service and maintains a safe and resilient network.
This includes making sure customers have timely, simple and affordable access to electricity connections to make it easier for electric vehicles and other low carbon technologies to be connected. It will also work to unlock the potential of community groups to contribute to net zero within the 2023-2028 price control period. WPD is planning to reduce its own internal carbon footprint to net zero by 2043.
Another core tenant of WPD’s RIIO-ED2 plan is digitalising its data and ensuring it is both understandable and accessible to all. This follows a number of plans announced by the company in September 2020 in its digitalisation strategy, including updates such as releasing its Real-Time Power Flow Data Access in November.
Data sharing is a key focus of the RIIO-ED2 price controls according to energy regulator Ofgem, which set it as a priority for the period along with flexibility and forward planning when setting its methodology for RIIO-ED2 in December. WPD has already been working to build up flexibility on its network and is expected to procure the most flexibility services in 2021-22 of any DNO, potentially reaching up to 800MW.
Phil Swift, chief executive at WPD, said the company was delighted to be the first to launch its draft business plan, following two years of engagement with more than 4,500 stakeholders.
“Our priority remains – and will continue to remain – creating an electricity network that supports the ever-changing needs of customers and best meets their expectations in terms of providing operational excellence, ensuring safety and resilience of the network, and doing all of this in an environmentally sustainable and affordable manner,” he continued.
“As we continue to work towards the government’s net zero targets for decarbonisation in 2050, we propose to invest £6 billion in RIIO-ED2 and have intentionally undertaken a significant consultation period, which started in 2019, for our business plan to enable us to collaborate closely with a range of stakeholders and identify the best path forward to reflect all our needs and ambitions for the future of electricity in the UK.”
WPD noted that while expenditure is set to increase compared to the current RIIO-ED1 period, customer bills are expected to remain largely unchanged at around £96 per year.
There is now a period of consultation, in which the network operator has invited customer and stakeholders to share their views on the draft plan until 28 February 2021. An updated draft will then be published in March, before the final document is submitted to Ofgem in December.