Electricity networks fined £3.3m for being too slow in winter power cuts

 

environment editor

The energy regulator has fined electricity network providers SSE and UK Power Networks £3.3m after an investigation into prolonged power cuts over Christmas concluded that they could have handled the situation better.

Ofgem said the two companies recognised they could have done more and have agreed to donate the £3.3m to organisations such as the British Red Cross, which plays an important role in helping vulnerable customers during power cuts and severe weather.

The fine follows a £4.7m customer compensation payment by the two companies, bringing the total amount they have paid out for the winter storms to £8m. The regulator also announced plans to raise the minimum payout for customers who go 24 hours without power from £27 to £70, with the total amount of compensation they can receive rising from £216 to £700.

Britain experienced severe storms over Christmas with nearly a million homes being cut off at some point. SSE and UKPN customers bore the brunt of the weather, with about 16,000 of their households in the South of England left without power for more than 48 hours.

SSE and UKPN are two of a handful of operators that take power from National Grid’s “motorway” network of high-voltage pylons across the country and deliver it to households through their local “A-road” network.

“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,” an Ofgem spokesman said.

The regulator warned that it would become increasingly vigilant if the slow response over Christmas is repeated.

“A power cut at Christmas 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 severe weather, the companies could have done more to plan for the weather and kept customers informed,” said Maxine Frerk, Ofgem’s senior partner for distribution.

The payouts were announced as Britain’s top competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, separately raised concerns that the energy market was being hurt by a lack of price transparency, the dominance of large utilities which both generate and supply energy, and an uncompetitive retail market.

The CMA revealed the scope of an 18-month investigation into the energy sector, due to complete at the end of next year, saying it would look at underlying causes, at both wholesale and retail levels, which could be leading to widespread concerns about rising energy bills, service quality, profitability and uncertainty over future investment. Roger Witcomb, chairman of its  Energy Market Investigation Group, said these were topics to be looked at, with no conclusions so far. 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'