Foreword from Vincent de Rivaz, Chief Executive Officer, EDF Energy

This is both an exciting and challenging time to be working in the power industry. Today the world faces a major energy challenge - that of meeting growing demand within the context of climate constraints and a depletion of resources. If we want to provide our eight million customers with secure, safe, reliable supplies, reduce our carbon emissions, protect the environment and ensure affordable, sustainable energy, then we need to develop long-term investment plans and a suitable regulatory framework with our regulator, Ofgem. During the negotiation of DPCR5, I intend to put safety for our people at the heart of our vision for both capital investment and operating expenses.

Our industry is facing sweeping changes which will bring significant technological developments, new sources of energy generation and new legislative constraints linked to climate change. As a company, we’re rising to the serious challenges these changes pose to the way we do business. We are now near to ending the process of submitting our business plan detailing our future investment needs for the next price control review period covering April 2010 to 2015. We sought your views on our plans, as Ofgem’s decision is pivotal to our ability to prepare to meet these exceptional future environmental and technological challenges.

We have a particular responsibility to the country’s economic well-being. The three licensed distribution networks we run are in the South East of England - the powerhouse of the UK economy. There has been a significant increase in economic growth across our regions and the energy demand on our networks has increased correspondingly. We do not expect this trend to change in the long term as our customers will continue to rely on us to meet their energy needs now and into the future.

Our job encompasses so much more than ensuring power at the flick of a switch. We’re also responsible for maintaining and modernising those parts of our networks that are coming to the end of their useful life. Significant levels of investment will be required to replace ageing assets and accommodate new capacity, particularly renewable distributed generation. We believe our customers have a right to reliable power supplies delivered at a fair price and we strive to maintain a competitive edge. This has remained central to our business plans but, as we move to a low carbon economy, the prices paid by customers will need to reflect the new investment in the energy infrastructure essential to meet the needs of the 21st Century. Building a sustainable network infrastructure is crucial and how we do this is central to our future strategy and to this consultation process. There are a number of technical uncertainties about the way distribution networks will operate in the future. Many of these emerging technologies are still in the research and development stage, but it’s now vital that we begin to invest now to pave the way for their deployment on our networks.

It’s a privilege and a responsibility to provide such an essential service to our customers and to society and with your help, we want to ensure that our investment plans are designed to meet your energy requirements and priorities and ensure that our future funding level reflects the need to create fully-modernised, resilient distribution networks. You know how issues such as climate change, electricity sources, reliability, safety and customer service will affect your business or constituency, so I encourage you to take part in this consultation. We welcomed your views on all aspects of the report and asked you to comment on anything which you felt we had omitted. You made your comments via this website, amongst other recognised channels, and your views and opinions helped shape our final business plan submission to Ofgem, back in February 2009.

Vincent de Rivaz
Chief Executive Officer
EDF Energy