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Panel chair appointed

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We have appointed Duncan McCombie, Chief Executive of the multi award winning fuel poverty business, YES Energy Solutions CIC, as the Chair of our Customer Engagement Group (CEG).

Duncan has vast experience as an independent consumer expert, most recently as a member of Welsh Water’s Customer Challenge Group for the price review process PR19, playing a key role shaping their plans at a strategic and working level.

He has previously been a member of the Climate Change Commission for Wales and the Welsh Transport Minister’s Low Carbon Vehicle Steering Group and was Chair of the Existing Homes Network for Wales. He has a long history of delivering independent challenge on behalf of consumers and providing evidence to Government committees and scrutiny panels.

“I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead the CEG at a time of radical transformation within the energy sector, as Distribution Network Operators become Distribution System Operators,” Duncan said.

“The CEG will fulfil a vital role to ensure customers are placed at the heart of WPD’s plans for the future and that actions and decisions made by the company are truly positioned to deliver the long-term interests of consumers.

“We will work hand-in-glove with the industry regulator Ofgem to provide them with essential, independent oversight and assurances throughout.”

The CEG will scrutinise our next Business Plan for the regulatory period 2023-2028 and the processes by which it is built. It CEG will have the ability to challenge us on our priorities, proposed outputs and expenditure; approach to sustainability, resilience and innovation; our transition to become a Distribution System Operator; stakeholder engagement processes; and support for vulnerable customers, for example.

Its key output is to produce an independent report for Ofgem that will sit alongside our Business Plan and outline any areas of agreement and disagreement.

WPD Chief Executive Phil Swift said: “We are delighted that Duncan has been appointed as Chair of the independent CEG. This new forum will play a crucial role in scrutinising our future plans on behalf of consumers at a critical and exciting time for ourselves and the wider industry.

“Duncan brings a huge passion for driving the best outcomes for customers. He has an extensive track record of directly and independently representing the interests of consumers across both the energy and water sectors.

“As current Chief Executive at a fuel poverty community interest company, his experience will be invaluable as we build a CEG with a wide range of expert members who can help to robustly challenge our conclusions and ensure the voice of the customer remains at the heart of our decision making.”

The next regulated price control period for electricity distribution companies in the UK, called RIIO-ED2, will commence in 2023. We have therefore launched our stakeholder engagement programme now, to ensure our plans best reflect the priorities of our customers.

Duncan’s first task is to recruit independent stakeholders to serve as CEG members, including consumer representatives and regional interest groups, as well as topic experts spanning areas as varied as non-traditional business models, innovation, fuel poverty, community energy and consumer research. The CEG will meet for the first time in early 2019.