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Increases in distributed generation will require Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to take on system operator functions, such as active network management, using new-technology and real-time data to make interventions on the network. This is referred to as a transition from DNO to Distribution System Operator (DSO). Electricity North West, Northern Powergrid and UK Power Networks will offer their insights into how the energy industry and DNOs are preparing for the DSO transition and what opportunities there will be for community and local energy.

  • Cara Blockley - Central Services Manager, Electricity North West

Cara is responsible for defining an efficient programme of network capacity investment, our transition to a distribution system operator model and how we work more closely with community and local energy organisations to enable a better service provision. Cara has over ten years experience in the electricity distribution industry having previously worked as a procurement specialist in the pharmaceutical sector. Since joining Electricity North West Cara has worked in a number of roles including as bid manager in our innovation team, where she was responsible for bid development, submission and securing funding for our flagship innovation projects.

Helen is responsible for developing and delivering Electricity North West’s stakeholder-led Community and Local Energy Strategy. Since joining the company in October 2017 Helen has been responsible for developing our stakeholder engagement process for the community and local energy sector and using it to inform the development of our first Community and local energy strategy. Helen is a chartered environmentalist with over fifteen years experience of developing and delivering low carbon and renewable energy strategies and projects with experience of managing multi-million pound portfolio of energy and environmental projects. Helen always delivers projects with significant stakeholder input and buy-in and has a track record of managing stakeholder engagement with a wide range of contacts including the energy sector, community groups and senior industry and public sector professionals. Helen is also a director of the Manchester Climate Change Agency CIC.

  • Jim Cardwell - Head of Trading and Innovation, Northern Powergrid

Jim joined the industry in 1991, working for E.ON in a number of technical and managerial roles in the generation business before moving into electricity distribution. Since joining Northern Powergrid in 2004, his activities have focussed on business change associated with price control reviews and the transition to a low carbon economy. He was the lead person for the Customer-Led Network Revolution – the UK’s largest smart grid project centred in the Northeast of England, which explored a number of technological, commercial and customer solutions to accommodate more low carbon technologies in the energy system. Jim is leading on energy policy and the transition to the role of distribution system operator. This includes cross-industry collaboration work on delivering customer benefits from smart meters, new vehicle-to-grid models, active network management and the trading of flexibility. Notably, he is leading on the Energy Networks Association customer experience workstream of the Open Networks project.

  • Lynne McDonald - DSO Readiness Programme Manager, UK Power Networks

Lynne joined UK Power Networks in September 2010 and has over seven years utilities experience, delivering new technical, commercial and customer experience innovations. Lynne holds a MEng degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Strathclyde. She was named Engineer of the Year in the Women in Construction Awards 2016. Lynne is responsible for overseeing the strategic change programme to transition the business to a Distribution System Operator (DSO).  Other responsibilities include Technical Lead positions in industry forums including the Energy Networks Association ‘Open Networks’ project, Power Networks Demonstration Centre and the International Utility Working Group. Previously Lynne set up and directed the £5.5m community energy project, energywise, that seeks to help fuel poor customers better manage their energy consumption. Moreover, lead a team that registered a programme of innovative projects to advance the condition and failure management of electricity distribution assets.