As the North of England’s gas distributor Northern Gas Networks (NGN) owns and maintains the vast underground pipe network which keeps homes and businesses in the North East, northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire warm and cooking on gas.
With 6.7 million customers and over 1,500 employees the gas distributor is working hard to not only maintain a safe and reliable gas supply but to make a difference to the communities it serves.
From its engagement with rural communities, NGN knows that fuel poverty is a constant issue for many of those living on low wages or in receipt benefits in rural areas. With a high percentage of inefficient, solid-wall housing and many homes without a connection to the mains gas grid, rural households can face unique fuel poverty challenges.
NGN’s Fuel Poor Network Extension scheme supports qualifying households by providing a free of assisted connection to the gas network. NGN plans to connect 14,500 homes by 2021. The company is also working with a number of local authorities in the north of England as part of the Department for Environment and Climate Change’s Central Heating Fund to install alternative central heating systems in homes where no central heating is currently present and a connection to the gas grid is not feasible.
NGN supports communities both on and off the gas grid, It launched pop up energy cafes in 2015 which have provided a useful source of information to help people use fuel more efficiently, and save money, through improved insulation and energy saving tips. It’s Warm Hubs programme, in conjunction with Community Action Northumberland, has also proved a success, with current plans to improve energy efficiency and use of community buildings as places to support social inclusion in rural areas.