The ongoing uncertainty created by Brexit and whether the transition deal will be accepted, changed, or rejected, complicates things for stakeholder engagement in the utility and energy sectors but smart businesses, such as our client SP Energy are directing their energies into more comprehensive stakeholder engagement plans.
If one thing is clear, it is that Brexit brings the potential for unrest across multiple stakeholder groups. Take Ireland, where the nature of the final Brexit deal may have a profound impact on ISEM and security of supply, particularly in Northern Ireland, or the electricity sector, where it is uncertain whether the target set by the EU to ensure that 15 per cent of final energy consumption comes from renewable sources will be maintained or if something similar will be put in place instead.
It is likely that wholesale prices will be forced to go up due to the significant amount of work that will need to take place within the generation and distribution segments in the near future for utilities to work in line with the target.
It has also been suggested that exclusion from the European Union’s internal energy market could result in costs rising by £500 million a year for domestic consumers due, in part to disruption to electricity supply.
Ahead comes a period of substantial change. However, at this time, stakeholder engagement can beat Brexit uncertainty.
Many businesses in the utilities sector will all face challenges no doubt when it comes to maintaining stakeholder information and engaging stakeholders through this period. Having the right software in place that keeps stakeholder records live and updated is the best way to avoid confusion and potentially damaging activity when running multiple consultations.
It is also critical that at this time, businesses in the sector are increasing or at least maintaining engagement activities. A survey undertaken by SP Energy Networks showed that 83% of attendees at their recent conferences in Scotland, England and Wales believed that the company would implement their suggestions, with 100% agreeing that they would like to return to similar events. These are powerful statistics in difficult times, and show that there is a real appetite for the modern consumer to be engaged in any consultation process – and that by undertaking it correctly, there can be engagement, even in a sector as tough as utilities and energy.
SP Energy Networks, who use Tractivity to manage their stakeholder information and engagement believe that stakeholder engagement is core to what they do.
“We understand that stakeholders can’t always be available to talk to us in person, and because we strive to be as transparent as possible with our stakeholders, we have an online community where anyone can access materials we present at our engagement events and they can talk to other stakeholders, discuss topics and previous events, take part in surveys and tell us how we can improve on any events. We use Tractivity to store and manage all our stakeholder information.”
Whilst stakeholder engagement can’t force or sway opinion, if your engagement needs are about to skyrocket, now is the time to address this.