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Mon, 3 August 2020

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Powering homes in a pandemic

Powering homes in a pandemic

Many of EDF’s smart metering and technical field engineers have volunteered to support local communities | Credit: EDF

Philippe Commaret, Managing Director, Customers Business | EDF Energy

3 min read Member content

EDF stands ready to support its customers as it navigates the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The current pandemic has changed our world in a matter of weeks and for many, the far-reaching impacts of this devastating pandemic will be causing untold levels of anxiety and distress.

We, along with the rest of the industry, Energy UK, BEIS and Citizens Advice, have signed up to a single set of principles to support all those affected during this time. At EDF we have decided to go further to make sure those most in need, are getting the support they need. Vulnerable customers, those facing financial hardship and those self-isolating will all need a great amount of assistance during this time and the challenge is how to do this remotely.

Our teams have identified 1,400 customers, who we believe to be the most vulnerable on our Priority Services Register, that may need additional support and have been contacting them by telephone to see if they need any assistance.

We have gone further still and developed a package of measures to help customers who face financial difficulties. We have set aside a significant hardship fund and since March have provided £950,000 of discretionary credit. This could be a mixture of payment amounts, which range from an immediate top up, to 12 weeks’ worth of energy for a customer who may have been isolating. At a later date the credit will be recovered through a charge agreed between the customer and ourselves.

Extra support is also being offered to customers in the form of repayments being made over a longer period of time, delaying payment for a short period or alternative payment arrangements altogether. To date, we have helped nearly 70,000 customers that have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

All of this is down to the extraordinary efforts of our key workers – our colleagues – who have adapted in the uncertain period to put the needs of our customers first. We were able to relocate nearly all of our staff to home working within a matter of weeks and our call waiting times for those customers in need are usually under a minute on average.

As installations of smart meters have paused, many of our engineers have also been reassigned to serve our country and our emergency engineers are still working hard to ensure customers stay on supply. We have partnered with Boots UK and Avicenna to deliver essential medicines to vulnerable households across the UK. Around 70 EDF field engineers have volunteered to support the Boots Pharmacy Delivery and Collection scheme. Volunteers have undergone training before collecting prescription medicines from Boots hubs across the country. The essential medicines are then delivered to customers who are unable to visit their local pharmacies due to self-isolation or sickness.

Perishables and food items from our catering outlets which are now closed have been donated to local charities. Our Hove office has donated boxes of food to a local charity called Fareshare who will redistribute the items to older people’s lunch clubs and homeless shelters. From our Exeter office, we have donated items to the Salvation Army.

We realise the role that we have to play in society during this time, from keeping the lights on through our power stations, to ensuring that our customers have the support they need to power their home. The future is uncertain, but we will continue working to keep that light at the end of the tunnel on.

 

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