A COUNTY Durham property owner who was left without power for over eight days during Storm Arwen has said that “time will tell” when it comes to whether Northern Powergrid has learnt its lessons from the power outages seen at the end of last year.

Communities across the North of England were left without heat and power in November 2021 when adverse weather conditions hit the region – leaving some without power for up to 12 days and calling into question the ability of energy providers to deal with large-scale weather events.

An Ofgem review, published on Thursday (June 9), has found some customers received “unacceptable service” from energy providers during and after the storm – which include Nigel Day, who lives in Harwood, Upper Teesdale, with his wife Chrissie.

Read more: Storm Arwen: North East MPs brand response 'botched'

Mr Day first lost his power on Friday, November 26, after a pylon nearby to his house failed – also leaving his neighbours without electricity.

For the first three days, the Teesdale resident and his community were left without a visit from Northern Powergrid, who eventually turned up to hand out candles.

In the aftermath of the Ofgem report into Storm Arwen, Mr Day believes that “lessons can be learnt” about rural communities who lose power but has called the review “a positive step forward” for ensuring that a repeat of power losses never happens.  

He told The Northern Echo: “The Ofgem review is a positive – I’ve analysed it and it addresses all our concerns. However, the proof will be when the next major outage happens.

The Northern Echo: Homeowner Nigel Day next to the power supply that failed during Storm Arwen. Picture: NIGEL DAYHomeowner Nigel Day next to the power supply that failed during Storm Arwen. Picture: NIGEL DAY

“Hopefully there will never be anything to the scale of last November – but time will tell.

“I think the issues start with the lack of understanding of the geographical area. Someone from the central control team can look on a map and think we’re not far from main places, but there are big hills and tight roads between us – especially when it is treacherous conditions.

Within Ofgem’s review, it found some customers were slow to receive compensation payments, with Mr Day getting several incorrect payments of £370 – despite being owed almost £1000.

This was down to Northern Powergrid miscalculating when the power went off for the majority of customers.

The Northern Echo: A tree falls on a car during Storm Arwen. Picture: NORTHERN ECHOA tree falls on a car during Storm Arwen. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

Mr Day added: “If the requirements in the report are implemented correctly, it will be difficult for energy providers to reel out of the rules.

“People in Teesdale are settled again now, but they still have Arwen in their mind – it’s always going to be there in our heads, thinking when the next event will be.”

In response to the Ofgem report and the concerns of residents, business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, has welcomed an action plan that energy providers will have to go through that ensures that vulnerable customers are contacted correctly, and a speedier response is delivered.

The Northern Echo: Trees were felled and pylons downed during Storm Arwen. Picture: NORTHERN ECHOTrees were felled and pylons downed during Storm Arwen. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

He said: “This action plan will ensure better preparedness for future storms, boosting the security of our electricity system and protecting families.”

David Smith, chief executive of the Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK and Ireland’s energy networks businesses, said firms have planned improvements.

He said: “This is particularly important as severe weather events become more frequent.

“The six electricity distribution network operators have submitted these details in their business plans for the next five years and Ofgem is due to make its initial determination in the coming weeks.”

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