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Network innovation is 'top priority' for government

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom has assured network operators the government is committed to continue supporting innovation in the future.



At a ministerial summit this week Leadsom said the government is “determined to allow the innovation to happen, there is absolutely no desire to go back to a place where there is no innovation and there’s complete discouragement”.

Energy regulator Ofgem announced earlier this week that an in-depth review of the network innovation competition (NIC) and network innovation allowance (NIA) will be held over the summer to establish whether any “substantive changes” are required.

The energy minister was in Leeds to hear about a project to convert the city from natural gas to hydrogen, funded by the NIC. Northern Gas Networks (NGN), the gas distribution operator behind the project, said it would not have happened without the mechanism.

NGN chief executive Mark Horsley told Utility Week it is “too early” to cut the funding which supports not just network operators but also thousands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Over 1000 SMEs are connected to us through the NIA and NIC, he said. “Leeds for example probably wouldn’t have happened. The CNG plant that we are developing in Leeds probably wouldn’t have happened.” he said. “Leeds for example probably wouldn’t have happened. The CNG plant that we are developing in Leeds probably wouldn’t have happened.

“It creates a mind-set. I just think it’s too early in that development now to cut that funding. It needs to go further until it really does become business as usual.”

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BDC 317 : Jun 2024