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MPs on electric fact finding visit


Two Milton Keynes MPs have come to visit us to discover more about what the network operator does – and what the future holds.
Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart visited WPD’s Milton Keynes depot, where they were shown how the distribution network operates and given an insight into the type of skills the company requires.

From left to right: Mark Lancaster MP, George Dunn - WPD Milton Keynes Apprentice, Iain Stewart MP, Roger Hey - WPD, Justin Hargate - WPD.

We are one of the many companies that require employees with STEM qualifications and we invests heavily in providing training to new recruits. Our annual apprenticeship application window has just closed and attracted 2,775 applications for the 89 positions available across the Midlands, South West England and South Wales, a rise of 66 percent from 2016. In the East Midlands, where there were 31 roles available, there was a 76 percent increase in applications from 2016 to 2017.  
With Milton Keynes being a Go Ultra Low city, both MPs were keen to learn more about Electric Nation, the £5.8 million WPD-led trial that is investigating how the electricity network can best support future increases in electric vehicle ownership. It’s estimated that the number of electric vehicles on the road will reach one million by 2020.
While the UK’s electricity grid has sufficient capacity to deliver power to electric vehicles, clusters of electric vehicles all being charged at peak times could lead to some local networks requiring expensive and disruptive reinforcement. Electric Nation seeks to delay or avoid such reinforcement through dynamic smart charging.
Mark Lancaster said: “As electric vehicles are increasing in popularity, there are new challenges facing electricity distribution networks. This visit has helped Iain Stewart and me understand how proactive the industry is being in facing the challenges posed by new technologies.”
Roger Hey, WPD’s Future Networks Manager, said: “We were delighted to host this visit. Changing technology will have a significant impact on the way distribution networks operate but it won’t change the need for STEM qualifications or our commitment to investing in our people.”
Electric Nation is a Western Power Distribution (WPD) and Network Innovation Allowance funded project. WPD’s collaboration partners in the project are EA Technology, DriveElectric, Lucy Electric GridKey and TRL.

The project is seeking to recruit 500-700 people buying or leasing new electric vehicles (of all makes and models, pure electric and plug-in hybrids) to take part in the largest trial of its kind. Trial participants will get a free* smart charger installed.

* Subject to eligibility and conditions

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