Spotlight on... Nia Hughes, energy specialist and firebrand for renewables
Nia Hughes, one of our energy specialists, chats about Octopus Energy's renewable credentials, the new Leicester digs, and her work researching ways to help local towns go green.
Why did you join Octopus?
I studied politics and international studies at university with a particular focus on climate change and renewable energy. After I graduated I delved further into that area of research, then it came time to start the job hunt.
I loved Octopus’ renewable focus, and ambition to provide energy both green AND cheap. For example, rather than buying pricey renewable gas, Octopus uses natural gas and carbon offsets any emissions with reforestation projects in Brazil. Same environmental impact, much lower cost.
So many people think you have to sacrifice a good deal to go green – but it’s absolutely not one or the other. It’s great that Octopus is working to combine those two crucial factors to offer renewable tariffs at cracking rates.
Initiatives like that drew me to Octopus, so I upped sticks from Warwick and moved to Leicester to start the job!
Have you had much opportunity to continue your work in renewable energy research?
The summer after graduation, I was actually awarded a grant funding research into the potential to reform energy in a particular town from fossil fuels to renewables. It was a really cool opportunity, though a little daunting, as I was the first ever winner to come from a humanities background rather than science or engineering.
A think tank called Climate Change Solutions got hold of my research and we’ve since collaborated on a number of projects. I’ve spoken on several panels and round table discussions alongside industry professionals, academics, and other energy suppliers about ways to bring renewable energy to local communities.
Our next big push is getting local schools to go green. Super exciting – I can’t say much more about it at the moment, as we’ll release the proposal in April, but watch this space.
What do you do at Octopus?
I am an energy specialist in the operations team, helping customers with anything and everything to do with their supply.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, as well as my day-to-day ops role, I’m getting into the nitty gritty of metering issues and ‘industry stuff’ – working with some of the other operations guys to streamline hairy industry processes across the board and update incorrect details when we find them.
Specifically we’re improving meter serial number updates, and working on cross-metering issues (when a meter is recorded as belonging to the wrong address).
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Lots of little things build up to make a big impact. Energy companies all have different processes, so trying to find ways to carry out improvements and quick fixes between our systems can be a struggle. Involves a lot of communication and cooperation.
What's the best part of your job?
The people I work with. Everyone around me really does care.
Plus – there’s a really exciting, fresh vibe all the time in the Leicester office. We’re growing so fast, you see about five new people every time you walk in! We’re spreading down to the next floor of the building, and really starting to make the space our own. We just put a load of plants around. Lots of coffee and bagel runs. All that good stuff.
Any message for people thinking of switching?
Go on – we’re good. Cheap and green.
Any message for people who've already switched?
Thanks! You chose Octopus, you chose renewables – you’re helping us save the planet!
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