Digital exclusion: The challenge of communicating with all energy consumers

This project is a collaboration between a consortium of three energy networks: Northern Gas Networks, Cadent, and National Grid Electricity Transmission, and is coordinated by the Energy Innovation Centre. This report summarises the research commissioned by the consortium partners, as conducted by Energy Systems Catapult.

Energy networks manage and operate the electricity and gas grids, ensuring safe, secure, and reliable energy is delivered to homes and businesses.

The project is funded through the Network Innovation Allowance – UK government funding that supports energy networks to take forward innovation projects that have the potential to address consumer vulnerability, and/or deliver longer–term financial and environmental benefits for consumers.

Project aims

The report set out to identify good practice in communicating with digitally excluded consumers and identify good practice in relation to energy outages.

Key findings

  • Organisations need a mix of tailored communication methods as part of their business as usual – not as an add-on, and need to be well resourced enough to deliver these methods
  • The PSR and its benefits need to be more widely publicised, and communication preferences pertaining to digital exclusion captured during registration
  • Energy networks need to continue to partner with key stakeholders in the community to coordinate the local response to outages, and invite smaller community groups to get involved in that response
  • Effectively communicating planned and unplanned outages relies on knowing the communication needs and
    preferences of consumers
  • Effectively communicating unplanned outages relies on a coordinated community response, with trusted local
    contacts designated to visit people without technological means of communication
  • Long-lasting (>18hrs) power back-ups for landlines are crucial in facilitating messages in an electrical power

What is Digital Exclusion?

Digital exclusion is usually measured in its simplest terms using Office for National Statistics data: those who have either never used the internet, or have not used it in the last 3 months. This project does not cover the definitions or reasons for digital exclusion, but the next phase of research aims to explore the needs and circumstances of people excluded from digital services.

Read the Report

Digital exclusion: The challenge of communicating with all energy consumers

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