Tag: sustainability

Partnering to build a Northern Powerhouse

As a company with a strong Yorkshire heritage, we are passionate about supporting the economy of the North of England and promoting the role of the energy sector within it.

That is why we play an active role in the Northern Powerhouse Programme and regularly meet with regional bodies such as Transport for the North and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

We are also represented on the board of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a group of leading northern businesses and civic leaders committed to maximising the economic potential of the North.

As part of our work with the Partnership, the CEO of Drax Power, Andy Koss, chaired five workshops focusing on the opportunities and challenges facing the energy sector in the North. Over 100 people attended the workshops in York, Hull, Warrington, Lancaster and Carlisle, which brought together industry experts, local authorities and community groups.

The workshops informed a report published by the Partnership in September 2017, Powerhouse 2050: Transforming the North, which recommended several policy interventions to address the North’s productivity gap and create an extra 850,000 jobs by 2050.

Customer service excellence

Our B2B Energy Supply business offers personal account management to our large corporate customers and our employees strive to support customers at every step. We aim to treat customers fairly at all times and commit to being professional, honest and transparent in our interactions.

Both Haven Power and Opus Energy have strict standards, outlined publicly in their respective “treating customers fairly” policies. The statements explain how we communicate with customers, transfer their supply, deal with billing and payment and how we handle complaints. Opus Energy publishes an additional performance standard confirming its commitment to customers. Employees receive regular training on providing a high level of customer service.

When things do go wrong, we are quick to make amends and resolve issues efficiently. We have publicly available complaints procedures and make it clear who to contact. At Opus Energy, complaints are overseen by the Customer Experience Board.

We are proud of the recognition both Haven Power and Opus Energy received for their dedication to customer service in 2017. Haven Power was shortlisted for “Supplier of the Year” at the Energy Awards 2017 and named the UK’s best performing energy supplier by Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) in this year’s Cornwall Insight Report. Opus Energy won “Utilities Provider of the Year” at the British Small Business Awards 2017 and was shortlisted in the National Business Awards 2017.

Protecting customer security and privacy

We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data seriously. We are committed to maintaining effective and sustainable privacy and security programmes dedicated to ensuring our customers have confidence in our data handling practices.

As part of our commitment in this area, we appointed a Group Data Protection Officer to enhance our privacy compliance. We are in the process of updating our Privacy Compliance Programme to take account of new requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enforceable in May 2018, and other associated new data protection legislation.

To support our privacy compliance process and organisation policies, we undertook an extensive technical Security Improvement Programme. We implemented industry-leading control measures to protect our customer and employee data by detecting and preventing threats and security breaches.

Programme initiatives included information protection, using protection technology to automatically detect personally identifiable information and protect it from unauthorised access and disclosure. In addition, advanced threat monitoring and analytics measures implemented mean we have layered toolsets designed to detect, identify, respond to and resolve cyber threats and attacks before they can happen.

Providing customers with great value and good ethics

Founded in 1860, Salisbury Museum is located in a Grade I listed building opposite Salisbury Cathedral. As a charitable, not-for-profit organisation, the museum relies on entry fees, grants, donations and the support of its members to continue its vital work. Finding a business energy supplier that offered the best prices on the market, as well as the right length of contract and good ethics, was important for the museum.

SMEs are a key part of Opus Energy’s business and they know that a business energy service that is as smooth and efficient as possible is a top priority.

Nicola Kilgour-Croft, Finance Manager at Salisbury Museum, commented:

“The switching process went through really smoothly, and the facility to receive invoices via email means I don’t need to spend time on the phone trying to sort out payment. Having 12-month contracts really works for us.

“We were looking for a business energy supplier that offered great value, combined with the right length of contract and good ethics – and Opus Energy ticked all these boxes for us.”


Collaborating for biodiversity protection and enhancement

Drax Biomass conducts regional risk assessments with extensive reviews of existing public and private datasets to identify high conservation value forests. This regional information is then augmented by county-level Natural Heritage data.

In 2017, Drax Biomass contracted with Nature Serve to package this regional- and county-level data into a format that would facilitate a rapid risk assessment for all in-woods fibre. This operational risk assessment procedure, combined with formal conservation commitments such as the Atchafalaya Basin Keeper agreement, reflect a comprehensive strategy to protect biodiversity.

Drax Biomass is looking forward to actively contributing to regional conservation enhancement efforts in 2018 and beyond.

A partnership formed with the American Forest Foundation (AFF) in 2017 is paving the way. The AFF is a publicly supported not-for-profit organization established to conduct charitable, educational, research and scientific programmes aimed at the responsible use and conservation of renewable resources. Our partnership with the AFF is aimed at improving habitat for at-risk southern wildlife species through active forest management. With open-canopy pine habitat identified as a conservation need, the market that Drax Biomass provides for small-diameter forest thinning material can directly benefit the regional biodiversity.

In addition to efforts around our own facilities, Drax Biomass employees have been contributing to a collaborative effort run by the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) to provide better information on how to assess whether or not there are forests with high conservation values in a catchment, and what to do about them. SBP expects to publish the guidance from this workgroup in early 2018.

Drax Biomass creates value in the United States

In many US States, including those in which Drax Biomass operates, there is a system of local taxation called “severance tax”. This is a tax raised on each tonne of timber felled in a State, and is usually paid by the landowner.

Drax Biomass has elected to pay this tax directly, on behalf of the supplier, on all roundwood received at each pellet plant.

In Mississippi alone, over a 12-month period, severance tax in excess of $80,000 was paid. The monies raised are used for local schools, roads and other public services.

American Tree Farm

The majority of forestlands in the southern US are privately owned (86%) and two-thirds of these forests are owned by families and individuals.

The American Tree Farm System (ATFS), administered by the American Forest Foundation, was established over 75 years ago to provide support and recognition to these non-corporate landowners who play a key role in forest sustainability.

Today, the 74,000 tree farmers across the US manage approximately 20.5 million acres of forestland.

The programme has evolved into an internationally recognised, third party-verified certification standard endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) standards.

The ATFS now provides a means by which family tree farmers can be recognised and rewarded in the marketplace for meeting rigorous sustainability standards analogous to large corporate owners certified to Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standard.

People strategy

Our people strategy: One Drax

Following extensive consultation with employees, we developed our people strategy to 2020 – One Drax. It has been designed to address the key issues that were raised by employees in our 2016 employee survey, such as the need for clearer learning and development programmes and more effective internal communications. The strategy focuses on valuing our people, driving business performance and developing talent to deliver our strategic and operational objectives.

We launched the five aspects of the strategy: my career, my performance, our behaviours, our reward, my recognition. In 2018, we will focus on all of these aspects and, in particular, our reward, my recognition and my career.

Behavioural framework

We have developed a number of HR programmes in line with our people strategy. The foundation of this is a new behavioural framework that identifies positive behaviours reflecting our Company values: honest, energised, achieving, together. The behaviours are integrated into all areas of our people management processes at Drax Group. The HR team consulted with one in five employees across the business, including senior leaders and union representatives, to develop the framework.

In 2018 we will further embed the behavioural framework and our Company values into our culture by developing an online tool for employees to evaluate how they demonstrate the behaviours.

Developing our people / apprenticeships

At Drax Power, we have a proud history of apprenticeships, with the majority remaining to work at Drax and progressing through the Company.

Mick Moore joined Drax on 7 September 1976 as a craft apprentice.

On completion of his apprenticeship, Mick continued to further his education and completed an HNC in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. After a 10-year break he resumed his further education, graduating from Humberside & Lincolnshire University with a degree in Electronics & Control Engineering, achieving Chartered Engineering status with the Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1999.

Having worked at Drax for 41 years, Mick’s career has included roles such as Instrument Mechanic, various engineering grades from Assistant Engineer to Process Control Engineer & Maintenance Section Head. Mick is now the Electrical, Control & Instrumentation Engineering Section Head for Drax Power and is currently responsible for a team of 51 people.


Listening to local communities

Over the course of the year, we held many meetings and outreach events with the communities living in proximity to our gas-fired power station projects, including:

  • Millbrook Power, Bedfordshire: 160 people attended public exhibitions hosted by Drax in the villages neighbouring the project: Marston Moretaine, Stewartby, Ampthill and Lidlington. We also held a series of briefings with local elected representatives and interest groups. The feedback we received helped to inform the application we subsequently submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
  • Progress Power, Suffolk: We held two roundtables with local landowners and politicians in Eye Community Centre in July and October to introduce Drax Group and better understand the community’s perception of the project. Further roundtables will take place in 2018 to involve local people in the design of the power station and sub-station.
  • Repower project, Drax Power Station: 120 people attended informal consultation events in Selby Town Hall, Drax Sports and Social Club and Junction in Goole. The sessions provided an opportunity for the Drax project team to discuss our plans with the community and identify the key issues of interest to them, ahead of the formal statutory stage of public consultation taking place in Q1 2018.
  • Rapid-response gas plants in Wales: We worked with Rhondda Cynon Taf Country Borough Council to discharge our planning obligations in relation to the Hirwaun Power project. We also started meeting with local stakeholders ahead of our statutory consultation on the Abergelli Power project in 2018.

The Sustainable Biomass Program

In 2013, Drax co-founded the SBP together with six other energy companies.

SBP builds upon existing forest certification programmes, such as the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). These evidence sustainable forest management practices but do not yet encompass regulatory requirements for reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is a critical gap for biomass generators, who are obligated to report GHG emissions to European regulators.

There is also limited uptake of forest-level certification schemes in some key forest source areas. SBP is working to address these challenges.

SBP certification provides assurance that woody biomass is supplied from legal and sustainable sources and that all regulatory requirements for the users of biomass for energy production are met. The tool is a unique certification scheme designed for woody biomass, mostly in the form of wood pellets and wood chips, used in industrial, large-scale energy production.

SBP certification is achieved via a rigorous assessment of wood pellet and wood chip producers and biomass traders, carried out by independent, third party certification bodies and scrutinised by an independent technical committee.

Working with our suppliers

Pinewells, Lda. is part of Grupo Visabeira with global interests in the telecommunications, construction, manufacturing, technology, real estate and energy sectors. Constructed in 2009, the biomass plant in Portugal is one of the strategic investments of the group in the renewable energy sector. The plant has an annual biomass production of 150,000 tonnes, supplying both the international industrial and the internal domestic biomass markets.

Drax worked closely with Pinewells in 2017 to ensure the feedstock used for production is both harvested lawfully and sustainable by meeting the requirements of the Drax supplier data return and third-party audit. Working with the forest and quality engineers at Pinewells, we have supported the company to develop and implement their monitoring and inspection system within their own supply base.

Key features of this system include desk-based research to determine the characterisation of harvesting areas and field audits to approve the felling areas, highlight the Good Forest Practice Guide and deliver focused training. This work has provided a valuable foundation for Pinewells to implement the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) within their supply chain.

“Working with Drax this year has provided us guidance and understanding towards the requirements of SBP certification. The encouragement and advice from the Drax sustainability team proved both valuable and practical.”

— Alexandra Pedro, Pinewells’ Overseas Sales Director