As another year draws to a close, Utility Week reflects on the interesting discussions had with several industry leaders up and down the country throughout 2018.

This year, like many others, has presented challenges for utilities and the people at the helm of these companies. Chief executives, founders and managing directors of water and energy companies took time out of their busy schedule to share some of their insights, thoughts and plans with us. We also caught up with various trade associations and political figures.

Reflecting the changing landscape of utilities, we have seen some companies on the list be acquired by others, while one CEO departed suddenly.

And sadly, the industry said goodbye to Robert Symons, the chief executive of Western Power Distribution who died in November after a battle with cancer.

Interviews of 2018

“There will be a different logo, but everything will feel the same.”

Since Sephton sat down with Utility Week towards the start of the year, the non-domestic water retailer Water Choice [Invicta Water] has been acquired by Castle Water. Sephton is now commercial director at South East Water.

“Between Anglian and NWG Business it felt like we had everything. We didn’t have much duplication.”

“In the face of critics, we should be hearing about what the sector has achieved.”

 

“My aim has always been to be in the lead – and the more distance you can put between yourself and whoever is second, the better.”

Tributes poured in for Symons following news of his tragic death on 7 November. He had a strong vision for the critical role the energy networks would play in shaping the UK’s energy future. When Utility Week interviewed him in February – just after his appointment as ENA chairman – he spoke fervently about the transition the energy networks are going through to facilitate a low-carbon future.

The industry took a moment to remember and raise a glass to the late chief executive of Western Power Distribution who was recognised as this year’s Industry Achiever at the 2018 Utility Week Awards.

Utility Week’s acting editor Suzanne Heneghan, described him as “an individual who made a lifetime contribution that was second to none.”

“Some of the social costs we’re seeing are causing a significant break to growth. It is a huge overhead.”

Struggling supplier Flow Energy has since been acquired by Co-op Energy for £9.25 million.

In August, business supplier Flogas Energy announced plans to begin selling electricity as well as gas.

As part of the move, the company appointed Beasley to the newly created role of general manager for utilities.

“A decade of continued falling energy prices and no carbon, it’s going to be fantastic.”

Jackson recently took part in Utility Week’s first ever live question and answer session on Twitter. 

He will be speaking at Utility Week’s Energy Customer Conference in Birmingham on 17 January 2019.

“That’s how we invent: by rethinking core assumptions in the market.”

“We are just a part of the jigsaw, yes. But that still makes me determined to address the part that we are responsible for.”

“If you didn’t have such lean margins, you wouldn’t really think hard about improving what you do. Although that’s a double-edged sword.”

“I hope the industry can assure the country that it’s got resilience in hand and that the country shouldn’t worry.”

 

“Our purpose is changing the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future.”

 

“People expect things to improve in the market quickly and we’ll play our part in that.”

In November, Utility Week learnt that Scoggins was no longer the CEO of Market Operator Services Limited (MOSL). The water retail market operator has since appointed Des Burke to the post of interim chief executive.

“You shouldn’t make a private profit out of something that is essentially a public  good.”

 

“We feel really strongly about changing the model. The more you can get competition and markets into the sector, the less you need regulation.”

“It doesn’t matter what sector you are in: winning businesses win with customers – it’s as simple as that.”

Vickers was confirmed as chief energy ombudsman at Ombudsman Services on 3 December.

“If we don’t get RIIO2 right, we’re going to be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

“There is still a problem with some companies on complaints, despite the service incentive mechanism, and despite CCWater’s pressure.”

“We are on the cusp of extraordinary transformations in electricity that will knock the socks off anything we have seen in the past ten years.”

“We need to be better – I absolutely buy that. I am not in any way, shape or form side-stepping our responsibility. There are things that need to change.”

“We expect people to copy what we do. If we are getting something right, people will want to follow.”

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