The UK Government and Ofgem have now published their reviews into the Christmas storms of 2013. These reports have recognised the exceptionally severe weather we suffered this winter and praised the work of all staff who worked during the festive period.
Mark Mathieson, Managing Director of Networks said: “As the DECC report notes, our network area has been in the eye of the storm for the past three months, with multiple storms and flooding impacting on the network.”
How would you describe the weather conditions?
The report states that the worst of the weather was recorded in central Southern England and the South East over Christmas.
Throughout December, January and February 2013/14, the UK was affected by an exceptional run of severe winter storms. The Met Office has confirmed that the two month period covering December and January for the South East and central Southern England was the wettest since 1910. Widespread high winds were recorded across the country, and December 2013 has been confirmed as one of the windiest calendar months for the UK since January 1993. This combination of heavy rain and gale force winds proved to be a formidable threat to the trees in our network area. Large trees which lay a good distance outside of our normal cutting and maintenance programme became unstable due to their sodden rootballs and were being brought down by the gale force winds, which in turn caused considerable damage to our overhead lines.
What part of the network was most severely affected?
The great majority of faults (83%) in our SEPD network area were in the east -Surrey, West Sussex and Hampshire, which are generally highly populated, leafy commuter areas with significant tree cover.
How many customers were affected in total?
There were 263,911 customer supplies affected in total between 23-28 December; we restored power to 97.4% of our customers within 2 days (99% if you include those who lost power for less than 3 minutes).
Ofgem reported in their news release that 500 were off supply between UKPN and SSEPD for over five days. How many of these were SSEPD customers?
There were 88 customers affected in this way and we were in touch with each one affected to provide them with regular updates; every effort was made to restore power to each customer as quickly and as safely as possible.
How many calls did you receive from customers during this time?
We received 195,000 calls and on average answered these within 7.25 minutes. We apologise to our customers who found it difficult to talk to someone and would like to assure them that we are looking at ways of improving our service. Most other network operators received between 7,000 to 25,000 with UKPN receiving 168,500.
What are the next steps?
Prior to yesterday’s report, we had already begun to implement a series of wide-ranging improvements for our customers, including increasing the number of on-the-road welfare facilities during larger-scale powercuts; upgrades to our award-winning PowerTrack mobile phone application; and the introduction of a new, storm-specific, liaison team to further enhance the level of detail we provide our customers. We will continue to work with the Regulator as we are determined to provide our customers with the best level of service at all times.