Looking back at 2019 by ElectraLink’s Chief Executive, Stuart Lacey
I said in my blog at the beginning of this year that 2019 would be full of growth and transformation for ElectraLink and I think ElectraLink team will agree 2019 has been one of our most transformative years yet. I am glad to report that the business has gone from strength to strength as the energy market continues to evolve and challenge all market participants. For me, there have been a number of highlights to reflect on.
Firstly, the establishment of our Nottingham office earlier in the year, a space which is helping us attract talent from outside of the south-east and provide an alternative meeting place for clients and partners. ElectraLink continues to expand delivering more services and expertise into a fast-evolving UK energy market. We expect to exceed the 100-staff milestone in early 2020 and improvements to our internal IT systems are increasing productivity through flexibility in work patterns. Feedback from staff satisfaction surveys confirms that our employees feel increasingly supported, trusted and motivated. Our human resources team is working tirelessly to maintain staff morale and bring new talent into our various business areas. Keep visiting our website’s careers page to see if any vacancies fit your skill set and career aspirations.
During 2019 we had another two excellent Engagement Days, the first on 3 April and the second on 5 November. What struck me was how the mix of over 100 participants at each event has shifted to folk who are focused on driving change rather than resisting it. This shift is reflected in our marketplace with a strong demand for ElectraLink solutions that support new levels of innovation and cutting-edge ways of working, common in other industries but historically less prevalent in energy.
At the April Engagement Day, we launched the Energy Market Data Hub (EMDH). This brand new platform for innovation encompasses our Data Transfer Service (DTS) and allows us to partner with a variety of utility stakeholders to develop innovative data transfer, insight and analytic solutions, with in-built governance structures. The aim of the EMDH is to democratise access to energy market data, enabling innovation and competition across the full spectrum of energy market participants and develop solutions that ultimately bring real benefits to consumers. Having launched this year, the EMDH continues to develop. Please keep an eye on our social media and website to be kept abreast
of all the developments.
The second Engagement Day, early last month, saw us reflect on the changes happening on the distributed networks and how data will have a central role, not only in the delivery of the DNO to DSO transition but also in its future governance. This has been an area we have been heavily involved in over the past year , including the Low Carbon Technologies (LCT) Detection project which wrapped up in Q3 this year and for which we received an award nomination. This project involved partnering with IBM and Western Power Distribution (WPD) to identify 15,000 previously unidentified examples of LCTs, such as solar panels, on WPD’s network.The next stage of this project will be launching early next year and explore how we can use virtual monitoring to bring more automation to network management.
The second Engagement Day also gave us an opportunity to hear an international perspective on the importance of data in the transformation of the distributed networks in the shape of a key note speech from Kaija Valdmaa, Project Manager of Estfeed, Elering AS who spoke about the Estonian experiences in data transparency. This reflects a commitment we have made at ElectraLink to look beyond the bounds of the UK energy market to understand international best practice in this ever-evolving market. This commitment was also reflected in our paper The grid of things: worldwide lessons for British DSOs, which outlines a number of key international learnings.
The theme of the value of data was continued into a fascinating panel discussion on the role of data in the governance of the retail energy market, which included Rachel Clark, Director for Retail Systems Transformation at Ofgem, Clementine Cowton, Director of External Affairs at Octopus Energy, Matthew Vickers, CEO and Chief Ombudsman at Ombudsman services and Judith Ward, Associate at Sustainability First. This topic seems particularly pertinent as the long-awaited tender process for the code manager of the Retail Energy Code (REC) seems likely to kick-off before the end of this year.
In typical ElectraLink style, we have not been waiting for the launch of the REC tender process but instead have already begun to address some of the issues that the introduction of REC hopes to resolve. This includes the CodeNavigator, our first-of-its-kind, web-based tool that untangles the complex web of energy rulebooks, to introduce greater efficiency to code management and make it easier for code members to ensure compliance. CodeNavigator enables users to easily find the information – including obligations – that is relevant to them without having to spend time sifting through the endless papers or PDF pages.
This digitalisation approach to codes represents just one way in which data can be used to ensure an approach to the regulation of the energy market that is fit for purpose and reduces the burden on both energy market participants and the regulator alike. This was also reflected in our development (through SPAA) of the UK’s first dual fuel Erroneous Transfer (ET) Performance Assurance Board. This board was set up to assist suppliers in reducing the number of ET incidents and to minimise the time taken for suppliers to resolve ET escalations and queries. As part of this programme, we will also be centrally providing data to Ofgem to provide them with a more accurate overview of all ET performance and reduce the burden of data provision on suppliers.
This is just a taste of what has been an exciting and transformative year for ElectraLink. I will soon publish another blog post looking at the year ahead, where you can find what’s in our plans for 2020, including the launch of CSSConnect, our flexible adapter service which will support the industry in delivering faster switching, our progress with introducing a single gas catalogue to improve industry interface with gas flows and our next steps in delivering greater flexibility to the distributed networks.