Trisha McAuley Blog - Q2 2024

Trisha McAuley OBE, Independent Chair of the Electricity Transmission Stakeholder Group, outlines the updated role of the Independent Stakeholder Group (ISG) and its involvement in developing NGET’s next business plan.

As part of Ofgem’s Enhanced Stakeholder Engagement Guidance for RIIO-2 the NGET Stakeholder User Group was created. As a continuation of the Group’s role in relation to the delivery of the RIIO-2 business plan, NGET decided to continue with the Group to help its journey to become a truly stakeholder-led business.  Users are defined as those who are, or who represent the interests of, existing or future customers or end-users of the transmission system operated by NGET.

In October 2023, Ofgem published its decision on the overarching framework design for the network price controls (RIIO-3) for electricity and gas transmission and gas distribution that will run from 2026. For RIIO-3, User Groups have evolved into Independent Stakeholder Groups (ISGs) which will provide challenge and scrutiny on network companies’ business plan development and have a new role in providing similar challenge and scrutiny for ongoing delivery of these plans. They will also have a role in ensuring wider stakeholder engagement. In addition, the ISG’s current role in monitoring the performance of NGET during the RIIO-2 delivery period is continuing.

We have reviewed our governance, taking account of Ofgem’s Business Plan Guidance, and we have a full programme of work for 2024. 

However, beyond the 5-year price control, we need to set the foundations now for the network beyond 2030, looking out to 2050. The energy industry is back in the limelight after decades of highly reliable power, with fairly little infrastructure upheaval. These days, it’s difficult to miss the transformation that has been happening to achieve a net zero energy future. To achieve the biggest infrastructure build since the second world war, everyone needs to think long term and collaboratively.

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has a large part to play in achieving the net zero energy future, and that is why our role as the Independent Stakeholder Group (ISG) is so important.

We are working closely with NGET, to scrutinise and challenge, as they develop their next business plan that will run from 2026 to 2031. Getting this business plan right for consumers and stakeholders is crucial if we are to meet the expectation of decarbonising the power system in the coming years. cognisant of requirements is vital and in the past few months, We are carefully considering Ofgem’s Business Plan Guidance in the context of scrutinising NGET’s plans.

To make sure that we are as effective a stakeholder group as possible, we have looked inwards to make certain that we have a robust structure of independent experts drawn from stakeholder constituencies across the energy transmission network sector. We have brought on a new member to the ISG, with a background in “place” who can bring the regional stakeholder perspective. I am pleased to welcome Cheryl Hiles from West Midlands Combined Authority to the ISG.

In our May meeting, we:

  • Discussed regional strategies, including uncertainty around forecasting future demand, and we advised NGET on how to best to meet stakeholder priorities in that context. 
  • Discussed NGET’s progress on delivering Accelerated Strategic Transmission Investment (ASTI) where we challenged NGET to not let pace of delivery subsume effective collaboration, community engagement and innovation.
  • Discussed responsible business - NGET has been on a positive journey but we challenged them to do more to demonstrate that it is embedded across the business, particularly ASTI.

Holding NGET to account against the need for stakeholder engagement is key to collaboration and long-term thinking. That is why we have a full, live challenge log that is appraised, scrutinised and reviewed against the recommendations that we make. For example, we have challenged NGET to work towards making their regional strategies and approaches views more accessible across the business and across the different regions (to enable cross regional learning).

We know that there is considerable amount of work ahead in a short period as NGET prepares to submit its business plan to Ofgem in December of this year. But I firmly believe that in the ISG, we have the right people, direction and passion to help influence how their plan comes together in a way that is focussed on creating value for consumers and stakeholders, so that NGET is in the best place to deliver the net zero network of the future.


Trisha McAuley OBE

Independent Chair of the Electricity Transmission Stakeholder Group