Electricity distributor to spend £234.5m on data and digital projects

Northern Powergrid will invest £234.5m in data and digitalisation initiatives from 2023 to 2028, including a £10m increase in annual spending to support decarbonisation.

The Digitalisation Strategy and Actions Plan (DSAP) is one of Northern Powergrid’s key enablers to prioritise investments that improve network operations, support decarbonisation, deliver operational efficiency and a gold-standard service.

Paul Fitton, Northern Powergrid’s head of information systems, said: “We will significantly expand our use of data for planning and operation of network and customer assets.

“It will become the key to unlocking new capabilities that we can deploy as we drive towards net zero.

“Across our business, the investment in data and digitalisation will modernise the way that we operate, driving down costs and setting the groundwork for a smarter system to benefit all of our customers.”

Northern Powergrid, which is the Distribution Network Operator for the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire recently announced plans to create more than 1,000 jobs to meet the needs of managing a smarter, more connected and more digital energy system.

Its business plan sets the blueprint for the types of data-focused roles that the network operator intends to create, and will deliver improvements across all areas of the business:

  • Customers will have better access to critical information and be empowered to take connections and other network decisions into their own hands through a new website and self-service capability, powered by AI and richer data sources.
  • Cyber resilience measures will be stronger and more robust thanks to investments in detection and response technologies.
  • Data-driven, accurate forecasting about electric vehicle (EVs) and heat pump uptake will help Northern Powergrid prepare the network for decarbonisation and support the burgeoning low carbon technology industries – boosting regional jobs and green economic growth.

The DSAP – and Northern Powergrid’s draft business plan – also highlight the benefits that increased digitalisation can deliver.

For instance, a potential £90.2m worth of savings is expected to come from the £29.5m investment in advanced analytics and network management over the 2023-28 period.