National Grid ESO - key workers keeping the lights on during covid 19 - man measuring

A day in the life of: Electricity Market Change Delivery Manager

We’ve been speaking to ESO colleagues who are working to support the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, Colm Murphy, Electricity Market Change Delivery Manager gives an insight into what COVID-19 has meant for him and his team.

National Grid ESO -  Colm Murphy banner

So what is the Electricity Market Change Delivery Manager responsible for?

My team helps deliver change into the GB electricity codes, develops new ESO services to ensure the future operability of Britain’s electricity system and supports the transition to net zero carbon operation. We’re currently working on network charging reform, European market integration and to bring market services closer to real time, to facilitate renewable generation and new technologies. We are also working with a team of experts across the ESO designing new products and services that will help us to operate the system without using fossil fuel generators.  

It’s vital we collaborate across the ESO business, with industry on how system and markets are designed and operated so they are fit for purpose and are in the best interests of consumers. There is a lot happening in this space, which you can find out about on our website.

How is your work helping Britain during the coronavirus outbreak?

One of the challenges lockdown has created for us as a system operator is unusual periods of low demand – it’s because all the factories and businesses are closed.

Demand Side Flexibility is a fast-growing market and a critical tool to help manage the system, it’s all about businesses (and eventually households) using energy more intelligently. It provides flexibility that enables our control room colleagues to balance the system cost-effectively, while our energy landscape feels the impact of lockdown.

Generally if businesses have the flexibility to increase, decrease, or shift their electricity use, for example carrying out processes when demand is low, it will be cheaper for them and easier for us to manage the system.

Power Responsive is just one of our long term initiatives to bring the industry together and look at how we can do this better. We’d like demand side flexibility providers to understand how they can support our control room with balancing Great Britain’s electricity system, and where there are opportunities to earn revenue from their flexibility. Our latest annual report gives providers and investors insight into how demand side assets providing flexibility (such as from load shifting, or onsite generation) are doing in our balancing services markets.

How is the relationship with external stakeholders being managed now?

Normally I’d travel a bit to various sites but that’s all stopped so we’re communicating with colleagues, industry stakeholders and customers via Webex, FaceTime and Skype. It’s all about ‘picking up the phone’, switching on the camera and excusing the pets, children and noisy partners in the background -communication, engagement and transparency with our customers and stakeholders is more important than ever.

What effect has coronavirus had on the relationship with your team?

We are a team of 26 people and I always felt we were a close-knit team, but this situation has brought even more openness and trust. Everyone is working hard and some are juggling that with supporting families and home schooling. We’re more flexible with our working hours and it’s been good to see everyone supporting each other’s schedules and availability.

National Grid ESO has always been great at supporting a work life balance and now we are in lockdown, we seem to be doing it well.

Biggest changes you have made since lockdown?

A new level of communicating with my children! My daughter has me using SnapChat and all the filters, which gives her hours of fun. I do miss playing basketball but I am still getting my fix from watching old games and videos.

What does the future look like for you?

Ultimately, re-establishing deferred projects and continuing with ongoing projects. I’d like to maintain some of the positives of lockdown: strong team engagement, a great connection with the wider business and industry community and a continuation of our work life balance.

On a personal front, being able to catch up with family and friends face to face, going out for a nice meal, and back to playing basketball!