Our Annual Report
This has been a year unlike any other, dominated by the global pandemic, that has changed everything and which did not feature in anybody’s planning for 2020.
I am very proud of the way you all responded so quickly and effectively to the lockdown and changes and restrictions since then: moving to support vulnerable customers; transferring call centre operations to bedrooms and kitchens; adapting working practices in control rooms, power plants, building sites, offshore vessels, and homes to keep everyone safe. We kept supplies going without interruption, despite a huge swing in demand. My special thanks to Audrey Gallacher, who took over as Chief Executive during this critical phase of the pandemic, as I was on maternity leave.
These were certainly not the circumstances I anticipated when appointed. However, there are two good things to say about this strange time. Firstly, we are all aware of the essential workers and services we all rely on in our daily lives, and that is true of this industry too: providing heat, light and power to the country is recognised as critical to normal life. Secondly, while this was nobody’s choice of impetus, the pandemic has shown we can work more flexibly and imaginatively and this will be vital as we think about how to champion diversity and inclusion.
It’s been our job to act as a single point of Government for the energy sector, to raise your concerns and to find solutions to them. As you’ll read in our Annual Report, we’ve been able to make the case with the Government - and devolved administrations – to resolve or clarify issues around key worker status, testing, PPE, home visits, health guidance, construction projects, local lockdowns and other issues.
This has also been an extraordinary year for our engagement with Government. In the past, I know the energy industry has struggled to be heard by our stakeholders, but that is changing. There is a genuine recognition that the industry has worked hard during the pandemic – but there is also a realisation of the strategic importance of our industry to the recovery and the transformation of the economy for net zero.
Our sector already supports 738,000 jobs and invests £13bn a year in the UK. But a Green Recovery will mean hundreds of thousands of new jobs and billions of pounds of investment, across the UK. On the 18th November, Energy UK was invited to the small business roundtable with the Prime Minister which launched his 10 Point Plan to deliver Net Zero: nine out of ten of the priorities are issues that our Members work on. This has been just a start, with a lot more – we hope – to come; but this does feel like an inflection point for the energy transition, with COP26 next year.
Of course, I am extremely conscious that it remains a challenging environment for all of you – and that was true before the pandemic – and you will read plenty in the Annual Report about the work we’re doing to help our members thrive in the UK, whether that’s working on EU Exit, the next price control, or the smart meter rollout. It’s not original to say that a body like ours is only as strong as its members - but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Thank you all for your support of the team throughout 2020. I look forward to working with you again over the next year, when I hope we might meet again in person. Until then – thank you for making me (and, on frankly far too many video calls, my little daughter!) so welcome at Energy UK.
Chief Executive, Energy UK
Read our Energy UK Annual Report 2020