Electricity North West has launched a new tool for customers to report faults without having to ring 105 on the network as part of a £16m investment in storm resilience over the past year.
As the North West approaches the anniversary of Storm Arwen, the company responsible for maintaining the region’s power network said it has further invested in its communication channels to enhance customer service and ease of reporting damage
Along with improving automation, Electricity North West has also invested more than seven million pounds in other areas such as network resilience, restoration times and cutting back trees in key areas around overhead lines.
The new online tool allows customers to report faults from an exact location and upload images of any damages or foreign objects within electrical assets throughout any storms.
Stephanie Trubshaw, customer director at Electricity North West, said: “Winter is a crucial time for us as extreme weather can pose a serious risk to parts of our network. We are always working to reduce that risk and to restore power to as many customers as possible as quickly as possible.
“We’ve spent this year further strengthening the network to minimise disruption of severe weather on power supplies. And enhancing the ways our customers can contact us following all issues experienced last year
“We always hope that our preparations aren’t needed but, if they are, our engineers and customer service teams are on hand 24/7 to respond, whatever the weather.”
Storm Arwen was the biggest storm the UK had seen in a generation, with more than a million properties nationwide suffering power cuts caused by trees falling on overhead powerlines.
In the North West, 93,000 properties – out of 750,000 served by overhead lines in the path of the storm – lost power, with 18,000 of those having their electricity restored within three minutes.
Nine out 10 properties affected had their power restored within 48 hours despite weather conditions making it impossible for engineers to climb and make repairs initially until the storm had died down.
The extreme weather meant a number of customers were without power for longer as engineers battled to make repairs, in some areas carrying out months’ worth of work in just a matter of days to completely rebuild miles of overhead network to restore power to the final properties.
As well as making its own preparations for winter, the network operator has also encouraged all those living in the region to make a list of emergency contacts, keep a battery-operated or wind-up torch nearby and invest in a portable charger to keep phone batteries topped up in the event of a power cut.
If power is lost, Electricity North West advises residents to check its live power cut information on its website via your mobile or check its social media channels for updates. If your power cut isn’t already identified, you can call their 24-hour emergency number, 105, for free updates and advice. It’s also recommended to check trip switches and speak to neighbours to identify if your home is experiencing an isolated power cut or if the wider network is affected.
Customers who need a little extra support can sign up for Electricity North West’s Extra Care Register. While being on the register doesn’t protect you from power cuts, you can get tailored advice and support and more regular updates to keep you safe and well. Call 0800 195 4141, or visit enwl.co.uk/BeWinterReady.
Electricity North West’s Storm Arwen resilience fund is also continuing to accept applications. A share of £500,000 is up for grabs with grants of up to £15,000 considered.
For more information about the fund including criteria, please visit www.cumbriafoundation.org/fund/enwl-storm-arwen-community-resilience-fund/.