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In challenging times like these it’s really important that companies listen to their customers. And for us, that’s the 7.5m people who live across Wales and south west England. From Wrexham to Redruth, communities rely on us to heat their homes, power businesses, and help renewable energy keep the lights on.

In March, at the start of Lockdown, we temporarily paused our gas pipe upgrade and new connections work to prioritise and focus on responding to gas emergencies and keeping the gas flowing across our network. The pause gave us an opportunity to review our ways of working, following UK and Welsh Government guidance, and health and safety best practice.

And before restarting this work, we took time to speak to our customers. In the middle of a pandemic, it’s perfectly understandable that families were concerned by people coming into their homes. We wanted to find out the steps our customers wanted us take so they felt safe. Through a mixture of telephone research and one-on-one interviews, we spoke to over 2,000 people so that we could make appropriate plans.

They told us they were comfortable with us restarting our gas pipe upgrade programme – keeping the gas flowing safely today and preparing the gas network for a green future, and our work to connect new homes and businesses.

However, customers expected our engineers to abide by Government guidelines on social distancing and wear enhanced personal protective equipment – including face coverings, while working in homes.

Acting on this insight, our teams working in local communities are following clear guidelines to keep themselves and customers safe – and reassure the communities we serve. Measures include:

  • Before entering customer’s homes, engineers will wash their hands with soap and water
  • While in customer’s homes, they’ll wear face coverings and eye protection, and may ask anyone else in the house to stand in another room while they work
  • While working in the street, they’ll social distance as far as possible, and we’re urging local people who may be passing to keep 2m away from work sites

Our customers also told us that enhanced communication would reassure them. We pride ourselves on keeping communities informed of our work and so, before starting work in an area, we’re writing to homes, urging people to let us know if they are self-isolating. With this information, our engineers are taking extra precautions when working in those home.

Alongside Government guidance and the appropriate health and safety precautions, this extensive insight from our customers has played a key role in the safe restart of our work – and we really appreciate your support.

While there are inevitably going to be twists and turns on the road ahead, as the UK recovers from Coronavirus, we’ll be working hard to keep the gas flowing safely today and to prepare the gas network to transport green gases, like biomethane and hydrogen, so we can help the UK decarbonise heat, power and transport and get to Net Zero by 2050.