Energy Secretary Says Power Outages “Unacceptable” Nine Days After Storm Arwen


ITV News correspondent Ellie Pitt reports on disruption resulting from power outages caused by Storm Arwen over a week ago

Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it was “totally unacceptable” that some people were still without power nine days after Storm Arwen hit.

More than 3,000 homes in the north-east of England were again without electricity on Sunday for the 10th night in a row.

The majority of homes affected by the storm are in the northeast of England, according to the Energy Networks Association.

Kwasi Kwarteng speaks to the media about the power cuts caused by Storm Arwen. Credit: Pennsylvania

During a visit to Durham to assess storm damage earlier on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng told reporters: “As I said, 99.5% of the people are back, now the 4,000 , I think it is totally unacceptable that they are always off, which is why I instituted a review to see if companies have invested enough.

“Ofgem is looking at this and of course there will be some kind of enforcement action to make sure companies are held to account, this is very important.”

Mr Kwarteng also warned power companies that the government would review their operations following continued outages.

He told the PA News Agency: “I had an experience on August 9, 2019 when a million people in the Southeast were commuting and they had a power outage.

“Immediately after that we had a review and we looked at the system and we kept the transport and train companies on fire and we have a stronger system.

“That’s exactly what I want to happen this time around.

“We will have a review, we will see if the distribution companies have enough infrastructure, we can even have enforcement action if necessary.”

Members of the armed forces check overhead power cables Credit: Danny Lawson / PA

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said on Sunday that power had been restored to the 135,000 homes in northern Scotland that were affected by the “once in a generation” weather event.“In the 35 years that I have worked for SSEN, I can honestly say this is the worst storm I have ever seen,” said Mark Rough, SSEN Director of Operations.

“The significant damage to our grid from Storm Arwen is unprecedented in some areas, with the Northeast region suffering the equivalent of nearly two years of overhead power outages in a single 12-hour period. “Despite progress in restoring electricity to parts of Britain, Storm Barra is still expected to hit the UK on Tuesday, bringing a new round of strong winds and rain.As a result, yellow wind weather warnings are in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with yellow snow warnings in southern and western Scotland.

Jim Muir, who lives at Honeyneuk Farm, Maud, Aberdeenshire, has been without power for more than a week following Storm Arwen. Credit: Pennsylvania

Gusts of 35 to 50 miles per hour hit the country overnight on Saturday, with temperatures falling below zero in parts of Scotland.

In addition to weather warnings, the Met Office is forecasting further wet and windy weather for the next week, with poor weather continuing in areas already affected by Storm Arwen.

Met Office meteorologist Rachel Ayers said: “It will be a relatively pleasant day today, but it will be windy that night.

“Temperatures, with the wind and cloud cover, are expected to remain high overnight.

“It should help things a bit, but we expect more changeable and unstable weather.

“This volatile weather is not going to help too much the areas that have been affected by Storm Arwen.”

The SSEN said it was actively tracking and monitoring the weather front that was slated to pass through the country on Tuesday and would move resources and equipment to locations it said would experience the worst weather conditions.

Boris Johnson said he has had calls with those who led the response to Storm Arwen Credit: Ministry of Defense / PA

The Defense Ministry said 297 members of the British Army and Royal Marines were still providing support to civilian authorities and carrying out door-to-door checks on vulnerable people on Sunday morning.

Boris Johnson said on Saturday he had had calls with those who led the response to Storm Arwen and that the government is ready to further support the recovery work “in any way possible.”

The long delays prompted energy regulator Ofgem to warn it would take coercive action against grid companies that failed to restore power quickly enough for customers.

He also agreed with businesses to lift the £ 700 cap on compensation that could be offered to people stranded without power.

The change will allow those affected to claim £ 70 for every 12 hour period without electricity.


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