Q&A with Paul Jewell, System Development Manager, Western Power Distribution


Favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere hot and sunny, usually the Algarve

What car do you drive?

For work miles I am electric, driving the high miles in a Polestar 2.  I also keep an older car on the road for weekend fun, a Toyota MR2

How and when did you get into this industry?

I’ve been in electricity for over 30 years since graduating and have seen many changes.  With regards to EV work that has been a more recent change.  I sponsored our Electric Nation project which was the world’s largest EV project in its day.  That was back in 2015 and it amazing how far EVs have come in the seven years since then.  The electricity networks industry has been changing continually but nothing is as significant or exciting as the shift to electrical energy that decarbonisation brings.

How can we encourage more people into the industry?

When it comes to decarbonisation and EVs, electricity networks are at the heart of the change that needs to happen. We face the dual challenge of keeping the lights on while embracing the revolution that’s taking place right now. This means we must look to future engineers. Our school age people understand climate change better than our elders and want to do something about it – we can offer them a future and exciting work based around their values. Now it’s becoming obvious that our industry is the cornerstone of net zero, we have the opportunity to attract new talent into exciting and relevant roles.

What are your industry predictions for the next 12 months?

Whatever EV predictions you make, they always turn out to be lower than the actuals that are seen.  The market is moving fast and demand outstrips supply.  Within our company area we expect to see nearly 2,000 EV and Heat Pump connections every working day by 2030 based on government predictions alone.  Market trends could accelerate that, quicker than the acceleration of an EV…

What is the strangest or most challenging job you have done?

All jobs can be challenging at times, it is great that my big challenge is now supporting decarbonisation.

If you had your time again would you have followed the same career path?

To be honest, I didn’t plan to work in the electricity industry long term; my plan was to get trained, get chartered and go off to do something more interesting! I stayed because it has always been interesting and challenging, with the Net Zero challenge being the biggest and most interesting topic that have seen.

If you had been reincarnated, who or what do you think you were in a past life?

I have a love of warm sunny weather and an inquisitive nature – does that suggest I was a meerkat?

If you could invite four people to a dinner party – living or dead – who would they be – and why?

EVs are the most significant development of motor cars since, well, the motor car.  Wouldn’t it be great to hear Elon Musk and Henry Ford compare notes over dinner? I would want my car-themed table to be balanced so I would also add Ethel Locke King who started motor racing at Brooklands and Lella Lombardi who collected F1 points in the 1970s. They’re inspirational women who led the way for others to follow.

What are your passions outside the workplace?

Outside work you will find me driving an open top car or driving a powerboat.  It’s not all about carbon fuels though as yacht racing is a great (and carbon free) pastime. I’ve seen small electric outboard engines and first generation electric powerboats, I am looking forward to them getting bigger, better and faster to take carbon out of my hobby.

If they made a film about your life who would play you?

I share my birthday with Harrison Ford, he’s older than me, so maybe that is a synergy.  In any case he has played Han Solo and Indiana Jones – which seems like good company to keep!

Describe yourself in five words?

Fun, Innovative, Eccentric, Dedicated, Fair.


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