Ofgem has secured an additional £3.3m from SSE and UKPN after its investigation into the companies’ performance during the exceptional storms last Christmas in the south of England. This is in addition to the £4.7m already paid out to consumers under the guaranteed standards and in goodwill payments. This brings the total paid out by the companies to £8m.
Ofgem’s findings showed that while SSE and UKPN’s southern arms were particularly badly hit by the storms, they could have done more to get customers reconnected faster and to keep them better updated on what was happening.
In light of these findings, the companies have agreed to make donations totaling £3.3 million to organisations like British Red Cross, which play an important role in helping vulnerable customers during power cuts and severe weather.
Britain experienced severe storms over Christmas 2013 with power cuts affecting nearly a million homes. Both SSE and UKPN experienced the brunt of the weather but agree that there are lessons to learn from their performance during this period.
Around 16,000 customers were left without power for more than 48 hours. The companies have recognised that they must improve their procedures for any future major interruption and Ofgem has put the industry on notice that any repeat of last year’s performance issues will trigger further action.
Ofgem has also today confirmed improvements to the guaranteed standards payments made to customers who face long power cuts in severe weather.
These will come in to force in April 2015 and will include:
• more than doubling the minimum financial payment to £70 from £27 if consumers are without power for at least 24 hours during a severe weather event
• substantially increasing the cap for payments made to customers from £216 to £700
• making automatic payments to affected customers, when possible
Increasing the payments for customers affected during severe weather will further strengthen the incentives for the companies to act quickly and reconnect customers as soon as possible.
Maxine Frerk, Ofgem’s Senior Partner for Distribution said:
“A power cut at Christmas time is the last thing anyone needs. While we recognise the hard work of the companies and their staff who were out working to reconnect customers during the severe weather, the companies could have done more to plan for the weather and keep customers informed.
“This is why we have secured an additional £3.3m, bringing the total payout to £8 million.
“Ofgem is constantly striving to drive up standards for customers. That is why we have more than doubled the payouts that firms will have to pay if customers are without power during severe weather events from £27 to £70. Network companies need to learn the lessons of last winter as a repeat performance will trigger further action from Ofgem.”