Utility Week

Utility Week 10th January 2014

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Policy & Regulation The storms in brief "I think the distress and inconvenience customers suffer is greatly aggravated if they are not given up-to-date, accurate and timely information," said Yeo. "The whole psychology of the situation can be greatly improved if people are given information on a regular basis." Another issue the ECCC will discuss is compensation and whether the statutory minimum payment of £27 for customers who are without power for more than 48 hours – and the £75 UKPN offered customers in its network area – is sufficient. Yeo said: "I think it [£75] is still a bit on the low side. If you've got a house full of people that suffers a power loss for more than 24 hours, the extra cost you're likely to incur to have any quality of life during that period is likely to be expensive." However, the ECCC chair was keen to stress that the inquiry is "not meant to be an antagonistic hearing" and the "most important thing is to try to find ways to minimise the risk of this happening again". Although all the DNOs have contingency plans in place for such events, Basil Scarsella, chief executive at UKPN, told the Mail on Sunday the response was not as fast as it could have been because many staff were on holiday, adding "we could and should have done more". The ECCC will scrutinise the DNOs' emergency procedures and contingency measures. Mark Mathieson, managing director at  SEPD, said the company "felt very prepared" for the storms, but added "we cannot wave a magic wand when major weather events hit". According to the Energy Networks Association (ENA), the network operators have "very robust plans in place to deal with these sorts of weather conditions", but despite these "you can't predict exactly where the damage is going to happen". An ENA spokesperson said: "Obviously it being the Christmas period put a lot of strain  on the situation", but he added that equipment, vehicles and employees were put  in strategic locations, engineers were  placed on standby and staff even worked from home to operate call centre phone lines. "The main factor that meant people were without power for that length of time was the flood water," said the spokesperson. The ENA said a review of the response to the power cuts would take place "across the industry" to assess what improvements could be made to contingency planning, but at this stage "it's too early because we're still dealing with the aftermath and dealing with the damage". 70 mph+ 300,000 properties in UKPN's region that lost supply 130,000 windspeeds experienced in the southwest properties in SEPD's network region that lost supply 84% properties in WPD's region that lost supply 120,000 percentage of properties UKPN reconnected in the first 24 hours "Many staff gave up their holidays to repair extensive damage" 850 Matt Rudling, director of customer services, UK Power Networks faults repaired by SEPD 155,000 £75 calls received by UKPN in six days – equivalent to three months' call volume amount to which UKPN and SEPD increased the compensation payout for customers who were without power on Christmas Day "Our customers have been the true heroes" 31,965 number of properties in the southeast that were without power at 7am on Christmas Day 2 seconds Mark Mathieson, managing director for networks, SEPD response time of WPD for 25,000 calls 500 30 December engineers final customers in "very rural" Kent Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of r econnected by UKPN biomass generator Drax the workforce of SEPD UTILITY WEEK | 10th - 16th January 2014 | 15

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