Robert A. Symons was appointed vice president-United Kingdom for PPL Global in October 2005 and has been the chief executive of PPL Global’s Western Power Distribution operation since March 2000. Based in Bristol, England, the WPD companies — WPD South West, WPD South Wales, WPD West Midlands and WPD East Midlands — deliver electricity to 7.8 million customers in southwest England, south and west Wales, and in the Midlands area of central England. WPD has 6,000 employees.
Symons started in the energy industry in 1971 as a student engineer with the former South Western Electricity. He later became the company’s operations director, which reorganized and changed its name to WPD in 1999. As operations director he was instrumental in the achievement of improvements in network performance and reductions in cost that resulted in WPD being regarded as one of the United Kingdom’s leading electricity distribution companies.
Appointed as Chief Executive of WPD in 2000, Symons headed the acquisition team to purchase Hyder PLC, a multi-utility holding company. Hyder’s water business and other assets were sold as successful businesses in their own right. The disposal of the main Hyder business, Welsh Water, was established as Glas Cymru, a “not for profit” company, which was a first of its kind. Infralec, the electricity distribution business, was retained and renamed WPD South Wales.
In April 2011, he also headed the acquisition team that planned and instituted the significant change program following the purchase of Central Networks, the electricity distribution business for the East and West Midlands.
In 2014, Symons led WPD through a regulatory price review process that resulted in it being the only electricity or gas distribution company to have its business plan fast-tracked by its regulator, the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem).
Symons is a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.