Tackling cuts, cleaning up energy and losing 30 miles of power lines in WPD's £6bn five-year plan

Fewer power cuts, cleaner energy and the removal of ugly overhead lines. That is the pledge from Western Power Distribution as it draws up its plans for the next five years.

Western Power Distribution intends to improve the power supply to customers in the West Midlands and embrace new technology
Western Power Distribution intends to improve the power supply to customers in the West Midlands and embrace new technology

As well as preventing a loss of supplies, it is pledging to help vulnerable customers and support environmental targets.

The company, known as WPD, is responsible for the power lines, poles, transformers and substations that deliver electricity to 7.9 million homes and businesses across the West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire, the South West and South Wales.

WPD’s five-year plan details its road map to a smarter network that will grow with the region’s increasing demand for electricity.

It plans to connect a further 1.5 million electric vehicles and 600,000 heat pumps by 2028.

The company also intends to work closely to support local authorities and ensure the electricity network is capable of achieving local net zero ambitions as early as 2030.

WPD says it is also committed to protecting areas of outstanding natural beauty by removing 30 miles of overhead lines across its distribution regions. It says that the record levels of investment will be without increasing its costs to customers and has pledged to keep its contribution to energy bills broadly the same throughout the years ahead.

Western Power Distribution delivers electricity to approximately 7.9 million customers

The investment will help 113,000 customers in fuel poverty make savings of £60 million in total. It will also help WPD support around 631,800 vulnerable customers in the West Midlands on its local Priority Services Register, reaching out proactively to customers in known areas of high deprivation and vulnerability.

As one of the biggest local employers in the region, WPD says it is committing to give back to the community. It donated £1m in 2020 through its ‘In this Together – Community Matters Fund’, which funded local charities supporting those impacted by Covid-19. The company plans to establish an annual £1 million Community Matters fund to support the most vulnerable in its local community until 2028.

Business plan manager Mark Shaw said: “We’re a proud member of the West Midlands community and want to hear views on how we should invest to ensure we support regional growth and a move to a lower carbon economy.

"Creating a smart network for everyone is at the heart of our ambitions. We’re also responding to a significantly changing energy landscape and the need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"We’ll be supporting more community energy projects and ensuring capacity is available to meet growing demand for electricity.

“Our business plan has been designed in collaboration with over 9,500 regional stakeholders across a two-year period. We’re now keen to listen to more customers’ views and ideas on how we can best invest in an innovative energy system while continuing to make a real difference to the communities we serve.”

WPD’s customers can give their feedback on the plan until April 25. It will be further developed over the summer before the final plan is submitted to the industry regulator Ofgem in December.

For further information and to have your say, visit WPD’s online public consultation at westernpower.co.uk/BP2

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