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SSE and UKPN Fined for Power Cuts

national gridBelated Christmas Presents ?

SSE’s electricity distribution arm and UK Power Networks, the pylon and wire owners for 17m customers across the South East, London, Southern England, Eastern England and Northern Scotland have been fined for the extended power cuts that affected nearly 1m customers over Christmas 2013.

Announcing the fines, Ofgem signalled a zero tolerance approach to a repeat of those prolonged cuts and announced that the minimum available compensatory payment to customers would be increased from £27 to £70 with the maximum cap rising from £216 to £700.

Ofgem also pushed for a move to automatic payments rather than the current apply and receive regime.

Ofgem’s fine of £3.3m which will involve SSE distribution and UK Power Networks making payments to charity comes on top of the £4.7m compensation already paid out by the companies to their affected customers.

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 £3.3 million, 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.”

The charities benefiting from SSE Distribution’s £2.3m fine include the British Red Cross, Age UK, National Energy Action, Macmillan Cancer Support and will be used to establish a new community fund.

Whilst UK Power Network’s £1m payment is also destined for the British Red Cross but in addition will also benefit the Royal Association for Deaf People, Carers Trust and Citizen’s Advice.

At least somebody is benefitting from last winter’s debacle, well done to Ofgem for bringing tangible Corporate Social Responsibility to an otherwise sorry tale.

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