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SPEN Preparing for Net Zero November 2022 Newsletter

Dear Stakeholder

Please find below the November 2022 edition of the SP Energy Networks ICE monthly newsletter highlighting the important work we are doing to Prepare for Net Zero.


We have completed a £2.1million upgrade project to reinforce and modernise the electricity network in West Lothian to benefit over 70,000 homes and businesses.

We have completed work at our Paulville Substation in Bathgate, West Lothian. The investment will support the area's predicted use of low carbon technology in the future - such as electric vehicles and home heat pumps - to ensure a robust energy supply and deliver a low carbon future.

The upgrade will provide a secure electricity supply to locals for years to come and supports West Lothian Council's aim to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2045. It will also improve the region's connection to the network and provide greater resilience from faults, reducing time off supply.

We have also installed two new rapid electric vehicle charging points at the new substation. The new chargers will be used as part of a new pilot scheme for the sole use of charging our own fleet of electric vans and cars.

Paulville is the first substation in the UK where we have fitted fast-charging for electric vehicles, and if the pilot scheme is a success, we will roll the fast-charging technology across our substations around the UK to support our zero-carbon fleet of vehicles.

Craig Arthur, our SP Distribution Director, said: "West Lothian is on track to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2045 but that will require big changes - as people switch to electric cars and buses, and homeowners upgrade with new heat pump technology.

"We're always looking at ways to improve network capacity to ensure local communities can adopt low carbon technologies and the modernisation of Paulville substation is a great example of this. The investment delivers huge benefits to the residents with modern infrastructure to provide a secure and resilient electricity supply that's fit for the future.

"SP Energy Networks is on a journey to switch over to a fully electric fleet of vehicles. Installing fast chargers for vans on site is a key step for our business as we help the country go greener. Paulville is the first substation to introduce this, but it's really likely we'll see this rolled out right across our network in years to come."

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: "Decarbonising heating and transport systems is one of the most significant challenges to be faced on the path to a net zero West Lothian, and the investment at the Paulville Substation by SP Energy Networks to support the increasing demands on the electricity network from the shift to low and zero carbon technologies is welcomed."


Our work to create new electricity capacity for low-carbon homes at one of the UK’s largest brownfield renewal schemes – Liverpool Festival Gardens – has started.

We are delivering this investment as part of our suite of Green Recovery Projects, which will see over £60 million invested in our energy distribution network to help accelerate the UK’s transition to net zero.

This ambitious urban renewal scheme on the bank of the River Mersey is being brought forward by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Homes England. It will transform the former home of the UK’s first ever International garden festival (launched by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984) with 1,500 new low carbon homes, heat pumps and EV charging facilities, as well as a new outdoor green space.

Our work involves installing a new electricity substation at Festival Gardens to provide the electrical capacity needed for this project. We will then connect this substation to our electricity network by installing a new underground cable route to an existing substation on Dingle Road.

We are starting work to install the cable route on Riverside Drive, before moving to the junction to Promenade Gardens, and then on to Dingle Road. This will involve digging a trench, installing cable ducts and filling in the trench. The work will be completed in sections, and each trench will be filled before we move on to the next section. This will help us to minimise disruption and limit activity to smaller areas at different points throughout the work.

Either temporary two-way or three-way traffic lights will also be in place along Promenade Gardens for the duration of the work, which we expect to complete before the end of this year.

Once complete, this ambitious, low carbon development project will help achieve the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s commitment to become a zero-carbon region by 2040.


More than 160,000 homes and businesses across Wirral will benefit from a more resilient energy supply to support the uptake of green technology thanks to a major £21million investment in our network.

We have completed the full replacement of our Birkenhead grid substation to upgrade the infrastructure, which was originally installed in the 1960s.

The project, which started in 2017, saw the complete modernisation of the substation and will ensure a safe, reliable and resilient electricity supply ready for green technology - like electric vehicles and heat pumps.

Mark Sobczak, 132kV General Manager for our Distribution Licence Area, said: “We’re committed to achieving Wirral’s Net Zero status by 2041, and this project represents another major milestone in this journey. This project improves network resilience for 162,000 homes and businesses in the area and ensures that Wirral is at the forefront of a cleaner, greener future.”

Previous upgrades to our network in the Birkenhead area include a £3 million project completed in October this year to replace overhead powerlines with modern underground cables, directly benefiting homes and businesses.

These upgrades will help to facilitate the increased demand placed on the network, ensuring all our customers receive a reliable, constant connection, while also supporting the transition to greener, low-carbon technologies.

Cllr Tony Jones, Chair of the Economy, Regeneration and Development Committee at Wirral Council, said: “This substantial investment, located in the heart of Birkenhead, marks a major step in the modernisation of our local community’s infrastructure.

"It will ensure that homes, families, and businesses across our region are reliably supplied with electricity, and will safeguard both our transition to newer, green technologies, and our ability to expand as a community coming into the future.”


We are delighted to share that our new Centralised Active Network Management (ANM) Platform is now live in our SP Distribution license area, with the first new customer now connected under the scheme.

The implementation of this scalable system means we are now able to offer customers ANM connections from two of our Constraint Management Zones (CMZs) in Dunbar and Newton Stewart.

Our networks are at the heart of the UK's Net Zero ambitions, with access to UK electricity networks increasingly seen as a barrier to connect new renewable generation and low carbon technologies. In order to facilitate faster connections, innovative solutions like Active Network Management are becoming more critical as they allow us to connect ahead of conventional reinforcement solutions.

So, what is ANM?

Active Network Management is a distributed control system that continually monitors the limits in a given area of the network and then allocates the maximum amount of capacity to customers in that area. These systems operate in real-time and monitor inputs, outputs, network flows and voltages to key points within the controlled zone. If the network is approaching limits, the ANM controller instructs actions to be taken to mitigate any risks.

We have already delivered successful trials of our ANM solution in Dunbar. That trial not only enabled the accelerated connection of renewables in the area, but also delivered job creation, cost savings and significant community benefits. You can read more about that trial in Regen's Dunbar ANM Economic Report.

Building on this early work, we are now rolling out further constraint management zones (CMZs) which are more sophisticated and have far greater functionality as part of our RIIO-ED1 and RIIO-ED2 investment plans. With our new central system live, we can facilitate a further 12 CMZs across our SP Distribution license area between now and the end of the next price control period, with the next two due to be deployed within the next four months. Roll out of this system in our SP Manweb license area is also underway, with a further 16 CMZs due to go live before the end of 2028.

What does it mean for our customers?

As each CMZ goes live, customers seeking to connect in that area will be able to apply for a Curtailed Connection, connecting ahead of traditional reinforcement with the condition that their export or import may be restricted at times of high network loading. From the 1st of April 2023 these customers will also be provided with a Curtailment Limit, receiving a Curtailment Payment if this limit is exceeded in a 12 month period, this will provide connecting customers with greater certainty over the financing of their project(s).

With our central system in place for SP Distribution and currently being deployed in our SP Manweb license area we can start to accelerate the deployment of CMZs, providing more of our customers with the opportunity to connect under ANM, accelerating their connections and supporting the transition to Net Zero.


From automated intelligence, drones and lasers to man's best friend, we are leaving no stone unturned to keep the lights on amid the worst of weather this winter.

As an electricity network operator keeping power flowing to 6 million people across 3.5 million homes and businesses, we have been trialling the use of a specially trained detection dog to help find some of the network issues that could lead to power cuts.

Jack the springer spaniel had a 100% success rate at a recent visit to one of our sites where an articificial fault had been created to test the dog's abilities, finding the location under asphalt on the first attempt. The cunning canine also used his nose to point to another fault it hadn't been expected to find.

The pilot is continuing and forms a small part of our wider arsenal against the worst the weather can throw at the network this winter.

And this comes at a time when we already expect to see fewer faults needing repairs thanks to an innovative system that can spot potential faults before they even happen.

In a UK first, our new LV (Low Voltage) Support Rooms are using advanced monitoring technology to provide real-time information on supplies across our operating area north and south of the border.

We analyse data produced by smart meters and electricity substations to highlight where a potential fault might occur on the network, helping engineers find exact locations where repairs are required, sometimes before power drops and customers are even aware of an issue.

These fantastic resources were set up as a permanent part of our operations following a trial that identified 30 'pre-faults', saving an estimated £60,000 in equipment damage, stopping power cuts, and reducing the amount of time customers were without electricity during repairs.

All of which compliments the inspections of the poles and wires that transport electricity around the country that's been ongoing all year round.

Using drones to identify areas of maintenance and helicopters equipped with LIDAR laser technology that scans whether trees have grown too close to power lines, the company has been carrying out inspections and maintenance at key locations.


Ofgem has today released its Final Determiation on our RIIO-ED2 Business Plan (opens in a new window), in which we set out how we will enable the path to Net Zero through our Distribution network from 2023 to 2028

Vicky Kelsall, SP Energy Networks’ CEO, said:

“Throughout the development of our plan our customers’ voices were clear – we must be bold as we reimagine our network, support the UK’s accelerated road to Net Zero, create a green recovery and stimulate more high-quality jobs. That’s what we’re committed to delivering.

“Today marks the next step in our proposals to invest £3 billion in our communities, delivering jobs, apprenticeships, economic benefits - and ultimately, making sure our country meets Net Zero. All whilst keeping our portion of the bill broadly flat across the ED2 period, at 30p per day per household.

“We’re pleased Ofgem has recognised the strength of our plan by accepting 95%* of the investment outlined and we will now review the detail to ensure it delivers for the customers and communities we serve.

“We look forward to working constructively with Ofgem to deliver the modern, efficient and high quality network needed to unlock growth across our regions.”

The Final Determination from Ofgem follows an extensive review and consultation period on our final business plan that was published in December 2021.

Kind regards,

Stakeholder & Community Engagement Team

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