DNO Electricity North West has completed its largest ever consultation, committing just under £2bn in its first draft of intended network upgrades running until 2028.
Submitted this week for Ofgem’s approval, the gridco plans capital and operating improvements totalling £ 1.97bn, up more than 40% on its last five-year regulatory commitment.
The heavy spend is required in part to make the operator’s regional grid technically compliant with handling increased and bi-directional traffic, as envisaged from April 2023 under the National Grid’s RIIO – ED2 five-year price capping regime.
Owned by a consortium comprising China’s state investment company CNIC, Japanese utility Kansai and London-based investors Equitix, the Warrington-based gridco serves around 5 million customers and 2.5 million properties between suburban Manchester and Cumbria.
Three pillars supporting ENW’s plan are
- Cutting outages suffered by customers by 20%, and speeding reconnection times to the same extent
- Achieving a consistent 90% level of customer satisfaction, including support for vulnerable customers in fuel poverty.
- Accelerating delivery of its own Net Zero operations to 2038, and helping its customers to the same goal.
Shaping the budgeting decisions have been around 18,000 submissions gathered over two years from the DNO’s customers and other stakeholders.
Specific yearly spending targets in the plans include:
- £1 million annually to support co-operative- or community-led projects in green power generation from hydro, solar and wind
- £2 million each year to ease the burden of homes in fuel poverty. By 2028, ENW calculates these will amount to 250,000 customers in its region
- A £250,000 fund also prioritising low-income households, deploying microgeneration from solar, and removing barriers to uptake of EVs
Up to 3 million EVs will need charging from ENW’s grid by 2050, the DNO calculates.
Another benchmark is remedying bottlenecks and pinch points, as identified by the gridco according to Ofgem’s definition of ‘worse served customers’. Supported by a £20 million budget, ENW says it already has workplans to improve service to 4,500 clients currently suffering its poorest delivery, and by 2028 to help 30,000 more customers located along the same links.
Further consultation on the plan remains open until 3 May. Read it here.