The amount of time energy companies took to restore power following storms over the festive period are to be questioned by the energy regulator Ofgem. Companies that are found to have taken too long could face a fine.
Ian Marlee, senior partner at Ofgem, said that the response times leave questioned that need to be answered. Thousands of homes were left without power on Christmas Day following storms the previous evening. The regulator said it would “take further action” if companies are found to have failed to operate the distribution of power efficiently.
UK Power Networks, which owns distribution lines across London and the south-east, has already admitted that they were not adequately prepared to deal with the effects of the storm because it fell when many staff where on holiday due to Christmas. As a “gesture of good will” the company is to triple compensation payments for those affected.
Energy bosses now face being grilled by MPs about the time taken to restore power and how they responded to the weather. Chair of the energy select committee Tim Yeo criticised the handling of the situation saying that executives would need to explain the very slow response and said a change in service was needed.
Further storms and floods are expected over the weekend, with the Environment Agency issuing severe flood warnings for coastal communities as strong winds combine with high tides. Environment secretary Owen Paterson said that emergency agencies and power companies are “absolutely prepared” to deal with the “exceptional weather”.