Paul Bircham is one of the Board’s newest non-executive directors. Paul explains his place in the energy sector and what he believes will be ElectraLink’s biggest opportunities and challenges.
What led you to a life in the energy sector?
I trained as a Chemical Engineer and, on leaving University at the beginning of the 1990s, I started work with British Coal modelling power stations, exploring biomass fuel options and carbon capture and storage. Energy provision is so fundamental to people’s lives and I have had a very rewarding career trying to make energy more efficient, affordable and lower carbon for over 25 years.
What is your current role outside of ElectraLink and some core responsibilities?
I am a member of the Executive Leadership Team at Electricity North West. I have held a broad portfolio of different accountabilities and responsibilities.
I am currently the Programme Director for RIIO-ED2, the next price control period that will determine the revenue and expenditure contract for the business for the period 2023 to 2028. This is a bit like being the Business Development Director, although we are a regulated monopoly business. I am responsible for regulatory and government affairs, external communications and stakeholder management, asset management, investment planning and commercial innovation.
What do you think the role is of central bodies like ElectraLink in the energy industry?
ElectraLink provides an essential role to the energy industry, enabling the functioning of an effective, competitive market that protects customers and keep bills down. By representing all DNOs, ElectraLink ensures efficiency through strong collaboration, industrywide standardisation and collective buying power. ElectraLink’s expertise is a source of innovation and continual improvement for the sector.
Why did you choose to join ElectraLink’s board?
I was keen to support ElectraLink through its next phase of development as it responds to the requirements and opportunities that come from an exciting and rapidly changing energy sector.
What was the most outstanding moment for ElectraLink during your time as a board member?
It is very early days, but I can see that the appointment of a new CEO will be a pivotal event in shaping the future of the company.
Where would you like to see ElectraLink in five years?
I think ElectraLink has an even greater role to play in the future and would like to see ElectraLink at the heart of the collective and collaborative work that the DNOs undertake to enable the decarbonisation of the UK’s economy, recognised as the leaders of data innovation and best practice.
When you’re not tackling some tough challenges in the energy industry, what do you do for fun?
I am a keen hill walker and am working my way up and down every peak in the Lake District. I am also the biggest fan of my teenage son’s various sports teams.