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. 

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam