Ofgem’s announcement of the Regional Energy Strategic Planner (RESP) is welcome recognition of the role of local areas in the energy transition, and the significance of the energy system for achieving local and regional net zero goals.
The RESP has the potential to add real value to the energy landscape. It can enable more democratic and strategic decision making from a place-based, whole-system perspective; support more effective investment; and strengthen engagement between local stakeholders and energy system actors.
To ensure it fulfils its potential, the devil is in the detail. Key questions now exist around the roles and responsibilities of different actors in the RESP framework; how dynamic the regional strategic planning process is; and in understanding how the RESP, networks, local authorities and stakeholders can best work together to achieve regional strategic energy ambitions in practice.
Regen and SSEN Distribution are exploring how networks, local government, and the new RESP can work together to support local net zero aspirations. We will also explore how the role can support new investment processes that better reflect the needs of our rapidly evolving energy system. We hope this will help inform the detailed design of the RESP and identify potential transitional arrangements to keep up momentum, recognising the initial implementation of RESPs in late 2025 or early 2026.
This work builds on research conducted by Regen and SSEN earlier this year, which brought together the views from local authorities on Ofgem’s earlier proposals. Local authorities called for the RESP to be a collaborative partnership, supported by an open and iterative process of engagement and information sharing.
Clothilde Cantegreil, SSEN’s Distribution Head of Strategy, said:
“The development of the Regional Energy Strategic Planner role provides an important step which will help to steer more effective whole system planning and strengthen existing ties between networks and local stakeholders.
“As with any new structure, this will take time to set up and we have already started to explore how the principles of the RESP model can be developed to add new value to the energy system today rather than tomorrow. This includes work with Regen on defining a transitional model that can be tested in communities such as the Isle of Wight through net zero first investment plans in RIIO-ED2.
“We look forward to continuing our work with local authorities, wider stakeholders, and Ofgem, to ensure that the critical bottom-up components from Local Area Energy Planning are in place to complement the top-down framework which the RESP will provide.”
Poppy Maltby, Regen’s Head of Cities and Regions, said:
“The decision to develop a Regional Energy Strategic Planner is a strong step towards maximising the opportunities of a net zero energy system for regions and places.
Key questions now exist in how the RESP operates and supports local authorities, stakeholders and networks alike to deliver collaboratively against these ambitions, building on the exciting work already happening at this level.”