Chair's Statement

Paula Rosput Reynolds

Dear Fellow Shareholder,

If you spent a moment looking at the cover of this year’s annual report, you will have seen thousands of meters of high voltage electric transmission cable. We chose this image quite purposefully. This enormous amount of cable is a metaphor for all the work that we have ahead of us. Indeed, National Grid – and the entirety of the electric utility business worldwide – must rewire the energy system. As in the last several years and well into the decades ahead, we will reengineer and reconfigure our assets. We will be connecting new renewable power sources and be reinforcing our networks to enable consumers to electrify more of the end uses in their homes and businesses. It’s a digital world, and ensuring 100% reliable energy delivery is integral to the success of meeting the goals of net zero.

It is this very complexity and scope that has drawn the individuals who sit on the National Grid board to serve. There are 29,450 individuals who work at National Grid in the UK and US. They are, through their work, setting about changing the world. It is a privilege for me and my fellow Board members to be part of this effort and to be helping guide the strategy as the Company innovates to meet the challenges in front of us.

The UK and US governments estimate that electricity demand will increase significantly as a result of expanded electrification of vehicles and homes. The amount of infrastructure necessary to enable this massive change in demand – and the sources of supply – is staggering. Public officials in both countries have laid out ambitious plans: setting up auctions to attract offshore wind and large-scale solar development; establishing goals for electric vehicles, heat pumps, smart metering and fast charging; and developing programmes to harness the flexibility in customer use patterns to reduce system peak demands. From governments’ ambitions, it is up to National Grid, in collaboration with the global energy sector, to come up with the plan to drive this vision forwards.


As a Board, we see three overriding issues that will dictate the speed of rewiring of our two countries for net zero. First, and perhaps of greatest interest to investors, is whether the right regulatory frameworks will be in place to enable National Grid to finance the expansion of its transmission and distribution systems at the scale needed to meet governments’ goals. Building subsea transmission and energy islands, for example, requires longer lead times and has significantly greater technical challenges. We are also in a period of supply chain pressures and elevated inflation across the globe. Traditional regulation isn’t well equipped to deal with the scope, scale, and timing exigencies of massive construction programs.

Second is the issue of permitting and planning policy, a challenge in both countries. In the UK, National Grid has advocated for designating certain transmission programmes as ‘nationally significant projects’ where local planning would be brought into a coordinated regime with mandatory timeframes for decisions. Such a scheme would feature compensation to landowners and communities for the visual impact of new pylons that will need to be placed into service. In the US, National Grid supports Congressional efforts to expedite the permitting of linear routes by, among other things, setting maximum timelines for major project reviews, designating projects of ‘strategic national importance’, and addressing litigation delays. In both jurisdictions, fundamental reform is necessary if we are to build out infrastructure in the timeframes that satisfy society’s ambitions for cleaner power sources to replace fossil fuel-based generation.

Third is the advance of technology and our role in delivering it. As I meet with members of the business community, government, and the public, I often find myself spending time on the issues of how alternating current and direct current work, what intermittency means, why the electric system must remain synchronised as measured in cycles per second, and whether batteries are part of the answer. Batteries have a role to play. They address short-term intermittency – the few hours a day when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. But National Grid has been both an investor and a testing site for a number of emerging technologies that address a broader spectrum of challenges on the electric grid, deploying new technologies.

Every technology we deploy has a learning curve and we also have work to do in our jurisdictions as to the business model for how technologies will be introduced. Our Board is optimistic that the inventive capabilities of our countries – and the innovative engineering expertise of our colleagues – will deliver solutions in the years ahead. How the pace of technology synchs up with the ambition to reach net zero is uncertain. But from what we’ve seen National Grid do so far, the Board is confident that National Grid will be at the forefront of employing enabling technologies. Discussion about the continued use of fossil fuels in the transition to net zero has become a charged issue. But the energy transition will take time and natural gas is not easily or economically exited for the many customers we serve today. Our Board supports the direction National Grid has undertaken to invest in new technologies involving decarbonisation of the natural gas which we deliver to our US customers.

I have been involved in the energy industry for over forty years. This is the most exciting time in my career. The three issues described above are in our collective capability to address. My fervent hope is that we can develop a collective will to get moving. Certainly National Grid is a ready and able partner.

We appreciate your support as shareholders – and as global citizens who aspire to a cleaner, fairer, and more affordable energy future.


Paula Rosput Reynolds

The 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of National Grid plc will be held as a hybrid event at 11.00am on Monday 10 July 2023. More details on the arrangements for this year’s AGM including how to attend virtually can be found on our website in the Investors section at: