Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, has joined Western Power Distribution (WPD) Chief Executive Robert Symons in calling on people in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney to seek support if they are struggling with their energy bills.

At a meeting at the House of Commons, they also discussed the importance of building a smart energy system that will help to ensure energy affordability for the future.

WPD operates an extensive support programme for customers in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney who are unable to afford their energy and/or to keep their home adequately heated. It works with a range of partners including the Centre for Sustainable Energy, the Energy Saving Trust, and Citizens’ Advice across their regions, offering a variety of support services including:

– Income maximisation (e.g. managing debts)

– Tariff advice

– Energy efficiency measures

– Boiler replacements and heating technologies

– Behavioural changes (e.g. how best to operate your heating system)

– Health and wellbeing measures

This year WPD has helped 15,000 customers to save £3.5million a year — that’s an average saving per customer of £233.

The company is also investing in a host of new technologies, systems and skills to create the smart network of the future, including leading the world’s largest electric vehicle use trial.

It also provides a priority service for vulnerable customers when there are power cuts.

WPD’s register supports people who may be particularly vulnerable during a power cut, such as those medically dependent on electricity, those who have a particular communication need or who may just find a power cut particularly difficult such as the elderly or disabled.

To sign up for priority assistance, customers can call WPD on 0800 917 79 53. The service is free and confidential. During a power cut, they should call 105 or 0800 6783 105.

Gerald Jones MP said:

“I was delighted to meet with Western Power Distribution and to hear about the important work it is doing in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney to keep the lights on and to ensure those customers who need it get help with their energy bill and in the event of a power cut.

“I am calling on all residents of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney to call 0800 917 79 53 if they believe they would be vulnerable if the power went off.

“I also discussed WPD’s investment to create a smart network for residents of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. As the country’s energy use and mix changes, our networks are being asked to do more to take the load. It was great to hear how WPD is developing new skills and innovations to adapt for the future, keep costs down and give consumers greater control.”

Robert Symons, Western Power Distribution Chief Executive said:

“We were delighted to meet with Gerald Jones MP to discuss our role of keeping the lights on and supporting our customers in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney. Since 2002 we have cut the likelihood of power cuts occurring by nearly 40%.

However, we cannot eliminate the chances of power cuts completely, so it is vital that we know who our most vulnerable customers are so we can support them first. We also take our role very seriously in helping to find solutions for those people who are struggling with their energy bill.

“WPD is also rising to the challenge of creating a smart network that works for everyone. We are investing £7.1 billion between 2015 and 2023 to improve network resilience, connect new homes, businesses and generation, and to roll out new innovations. We also have a fully costed £125 million plan to convert the existing network to a smart grid, becoming a ‘Distribution System Operator’, at no extra cost to customers.”

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