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ElectraLink CEO Dan Hopkinson

A summer of fewer closed borders and well-deserved time-off has come to an end. This has not been without its hurdles as increased demand puts pressure on supply chains and labour shortages impact various industries. As we move into colder weather and planning for next year against the backdrop of a new variant, our attention is pulled towards overcoming these challenges while getting ready for 2022.

Firstly, I am writing to you now no longer as Acting CEO. I am delighted to share that my position as CEO was made permanent earlier this quarter after the ElectraLink Board oversaw a competitive recruitment process. I have enjoyed my interim role over the past few months and am eager to continue working with my colleagues as I have been.

The past few months have been some of the energy market‘s most unstable in decades. High gas prices have proved too extreme and sadly many of our customers have had to exit the market. This means many industry colleagues need to take their next step in employment or other endeavours, and understandable uncertainty for customers who need a new supplier.

However, the industry’s Supplier of Last Resort (SoLR) arrangements are tried and tested, designed to honour credit balances and secure the best outcome for customers. We are here to support the market and are glad to help in any way we can. We already provide data to supplier customers when they win a SoLR bid and support in other ways through our management of the Data Transfer Service (DTS). This support allows careful management of market exits without passing the costs to other parties and ensuring end users have the best start with their new supplier.

The price disruption from gas has also proved how necessary it is to speed up and secure energy system decarbonisation, and how the UK’s decarbonisation journey can create uncertainty. Our role as a central body is to facilitate industry processes, reduce costs for the market and create an environment for competition and innovation to flourish. Innovative works such as EMPRIS, Skyline and Flexr are examples of how we are using data and industry knowledge to fill the information gaps and create communication pathways for stakeholders within and outside the energy industry. This will facilitate discussion and collaboration, in turn enriching the planning process and clearing uncertainty. While high gas prices remain for some time, we are hopeful of the great strides energy businesses are taking to accelerate decarbonisation.

In my last blog post, I announced that ElectraLink had signed the Pledge to Net Zero commitment as we look to join others in cutting emissions. Our efforts to meet net zero continued this last quarter as the project team received further training and developed our plans for where and how to tackle our emissions. You can see our official net zero announcement here. We are also increasing engagement with ElectraLink staff to embed net zero principles in our working styles and activities. You can find further details of our journey in a blog post from the ElectraLink net zero project lead.

Post-COP26 is the perfect time for us to immerse employees in net zero awareness. To mark this pivotal event, our corporate social responsibility team and staff social committee organised low carbon events for ElectraLink staff. We are already well-educated on eco-friendly practices and where reductions in our personal lives need to be made, but this week of action coinciding with COP26 brought net zero to the heart of ElectraLink’s way of working.

As we move into the final weeks of 2021, the Executive team and I are delighted to announce we have been drafting a new ElectraLink business strategy. This will take ElectraLink into the new year with renewed ambitions to expand on the value of our services for customers and boost the value we represent for our shareholders. Through collaboration across internal business units and leveraging our market-leading expertise in data, we will transform all areas of the business with a new set of aims which will benefit the whole market.

We want to deliver solutions to an expanding set of stakeholders and facilitate joined-up approaches to work through challenges in our industry. Disruptors and innovators need access to existing market resources to prove concepts and act on ideas, so giving them and other market participants (like our DNO shareholders) access to data and our code expertise, via projects such as the next phase of EMPRIS, is high on the agenda. We also want to invest in our own innovation capabilities. Offshoots of this will create opportunities for the wider market, such as increased efficiency, innovative new projects, impactful partnerships and customer engagement improvements across both fuel types. Finally, our agile and experienced governance services will be deployed to digitalise, advise and guide the market in the numerous upcoming regulatory changes.

The most important aspect of the strategy review is our approach to people. After the stress of the pandemic and changes in ElectraLink’s leadership, we are adjusting our personnel approaches to prepare employees for a hybrid-working world with particular emphasis on development, learning, collaboration and outcome-based activities. Recruiting and retaining energy experts will emerge from increased input from our dedicated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion team, as well as an attractive rewards package. Prioritising development does not just extend to our service offering but also prepares ElectraLink staff for the task at hand and the rest of their careers, whether at ElectraLink or another business fortunate enough to have them. As always, please take a look at the vacancies on our careers page – we are always looking for the most talented people to join our wonderful team.

I wish you the best of luck as we move into the end of the year and its mad dash to meet targets, wrap up financials and set next year’s objectives. I also hope we can do this looking forwards to a Christmas shared with family and friends.

Words by Dan Hopkinson, CEO