Reacting to this week’s Ofgem review into the handling of Storm Arwen, Mary has responded to the findings.
Just under 1 million homes were left without power, some for nearly two weeks, after Storm Arwen hit last November. This week, Ofgem have released their report into the failings of the power network.
Its findings highlight a lack of preparation and a failure to provide adequate updates to those without power.
The report makes clear why so many of my constituents in areas such as Waterhouses and Bearpark were left with unacceptable power cuts, but also without any clear communication or meaningful support for far too long.
It’s deeply concerning that Northern Powergrid failed to keep even the most vulnerable customers informed but also were too slow to deploy resources to re-establish power for many households. Many of my constituents were let down by their power provider. Not just in a failure to restore power, but also in the slow response to compensation, with some people waiting far too long to be reimbursed.
In my own Storm Impact Survey, 31% of those responding had not, at time of replying to the survey received their compensation from NPG. Of those who had received their compensation, half believed that it was not a fair amount given the circumstances.
92% of respondents stated that they thought that NPG’s performance was “very poor” or “poor” throughout, with 100% of respondents stating NPG’s communication was “very poor” or “poor” (61.5% very poor and 38.5% poor).
I am pleased therefore that Ofgem have noted among their recommendations to Norther Powergrid, that the mechanisms for reporting power outages are reviewed so that the failure of communication we witnessed in November and December last year is not repeated. My office was, at most points throughout the crisis, acting as a triage system for Northern Powergrid, given that constituents were struggling to get through to NPG. I am hopeful that necessary changes will be made following this report.
Furthermore, it is crucial that a review of poles is undertaken, as recommended by Ofgem, to ensure that the power network has the greatest amount of resilience possible in the event of another storm of the magnitude of Arwen. 50-80% of damaged poles were over 40 years old, highlighting the need for updated infrastructure.
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