EDF chief: energy firms must be ‘socially useful’

Energy firms need to show they are “socially useful” to regain the public’s trust, according to the head of EDF Energy. Vincent de Rivaz, the French energy firm’s Chief Executive […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Energy firms need to show they are “socially useful” to regain the public’s trust, according to the head of EDF Energy.

Vincent de Rivaz, the French energy firm’s Chief Executive made the claims in a speech yesterday at Exeter University.

Drawing a parallel between the word ‘utility’ and the energy company’s role in Britain’s “economic recovery”, he said: “The word utility echoes the French word utile meaning that is is something that is not just a function, it is a socially useful function.

“Our challenge as an energy company then is to make clear the service we provide to you, to the public, as a socially useful company.”

Speaking just a week after the one year anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Mr de Rivaz suggested as a nuclear power operator it is critical to be “socially accountable”.

However the energy boss also suggested this was tricky in modern society with wide access to the internet and social media.

He added: “We also realise we live in a digital age, a time when we have access to huge amounts of data and opinion – a major challenge for building trust.”