More than 200 generators have been brought in from across the UK to restore power to the final customers affected by Storm Arwen in the North West.
As of 12pm on Friday Electricity North West had restored power to 117,000 customers and had just 1,700 left to restore.
Steph Trubshaw, Incident Manager, said: “While we’re connecting generators to restore power to the final customers, we’re still carrying out repairs to the main network, so this actually increases our workload in the short term. Our teams have worked solidly now for a week in a heroic effort to restore power and are still going – starting before first light and working well in to the dark in very cold and wet conditions.
“Short power cuts will be caused as we remove generators and switch people back to the main network but this is perfectly normal and is the only way to switch people back to the main supply. If your power goes off again after having been restored, please wait 30 minutes before contacting us as it may be that we are switching your supply from a generator, please also check your trip switches and help neighbours to check theirs if needed.
“We’re also still seeing power cuts being reported, there are a lot of second homes in the area affected, and some power cuts have not yet been reported. We may have reenergised lines after rebuilding a 2km section of line with 30 new poles for example, but unreported damage further down the line might still mean people are off. We have 13,000km of overhead lines and while we’ve done everything we can – from helicopter and foot patrols – we still need customers to let us know of any damage they see or any properties without power so that we can continue repairs.”
Questions are now turning to compensation and ongoing resilience of the network. Payments to customers following storms are set nationally by energy regulator Ofgem, depending on the severity of the incident. Storm Arwen will be classed as a ‘category 2’ storm in the North West, meaning customers are eligible for payments of £70 if they have been without power for 48 hours, plus a further £70 for each additional 12-hour period that they are off supply.
On resilience, Steph Trubshaw said: “We receive about £90 a year from each customer’s energy bill and we use that money to invest millions each year cutting back trees from overhead lines and upgrading poles and lines where needed to reduce the impact of storms but we can only cut back trees where we have permission from the landowner to do so. Three quarters of our network is underground but underground networks are often not practical in remote rural locations due to distances and ground conditions. Instead we very closely manage the overhead network but the damage caused by Storm Arwen is like nothing we have seen for decades.”
Electricity North West has also now provided almost 8,000 free meals to customers and is encouraging people to view and share food and welfare support locations which have been published online. For more information including locations of support, answers to key questions and how to claim payment if you’ve been affected, go to www.enwl.co.uk/StormArwen.