John Morea, chief executive, SGN Energy networks, Energy retail, Skills, Strategy & management, Water, Opinion, SGN

With the deadline fast approaching for entries to the Utility Week Awards 2021, the chief executive of last year’s Utility of the Year reflects on what the win meant for his company. SGN’s John Morea also gives his views on how the industry has reacted to the pandemic and why it is right to celebrate what has been achieved during a turbulent year.

As the deadline looms for the 2021 Utility Week Awards, it seems like only yesterday the 2020 awards were announced. That was strange in itself as it was already 2021 at the time, but I guess it’s yet another example of where Covid-19 has affected what used to be called normal life.

Reflecting back, we can see how the fabric of our society has been tested over the past 18 months, but at the same time it’s amazing to see how we’ve adapted and changed the way we do things.

Last year was tough but 2021 hasn’t been easy either, with the second and extended lockdown proving challenging. What we’ve also seen in the past few months is how mental health issues have come to the fore, in a way many of us might not have expected. Here’s it’s good to see so many companies across our sector offering valuable help to our people on the challenges they’ve had, and continue to face.

Looking back, it was a real honour for us to be named as Utility of the Year. Knowing they’d been recognised at the highest level has been very rewarding for our own people and often is reflected in the pride and professionalism they show in their work.

As I said at the time, the 2020 awards demonstrated recognition for the challenging environment all utility companies found themselves in, whether it was gas, water or electricity, we all kept our customers warm, powered and connected with our essential services. One thing I’ve noticed with pleasure over this time is the growth in collaboration right across the utility industry, with net-zero being a prime example of where our industry is taking a fantastic lead in helping the UK progress its important decarbonisation agenda. It’s also good to see this real-world and essential challenge now reflected in the Utility Week Awards.

I wish everyone entering the awards this year every success. It’s true I think the competition gets harder each year but that just means the quality of the work we do for our customers carries on improving, which is something we can all be proud of.

Entries for this year’s Utility Week Awards are open until 17 September. To find out more and to see how to enter, go to the awards website.