Loss of electricity supply due to severe weather

Best practice and decision-making principles

You can find out who your network provider is via the Energy Networks Association website.

Best practice

We would expect the energy network to:

  • keep its customers updated during the loss of supply
  • follow its own processes for dealing with customers who have registered as vulnerable
  • make clear its process for claiming for loss of supply and the circumstances in which customers might be eligible for compensation payments
  • measure individual circumstances against relevant legislation and industry standards – providing the compensation prescribed by those standards where applicable
  • provide a clear explanation of the outcome of a compensation claim
  • deal with any challenges to its decision about compensation promptly
Decision making principles

In deciding complaints about loss of supply due to severe weather, Ombudsman Services would consider the following:

  • Did the energy network keep its customers updated throughout the loss of supply?
  • Where applicable, did the energy network follow its own processes for dealing with customers who have registered as vulnerable?
  • Did the energy network correctly measure the complainant’s circumstances against the Electricity (Standards of performance) regulations 2015 and electricity guaranteed standard 11 (severe weather)?
  • Has the energy network provided the compensation prescribed by electricity guaranteed standard 11? (NB, this may be no compensation if the energy network restored supply within set timescales)
  • Did the energy network provide a clear explanation of the outcome of any compensation claim?
  • Did the energy network deal with challenges its decision about compensation promptly?

Things to consider

Delays in the energy network accessing its substation(s):

In most instances, an energy network will need to gain access to its substation(s) before it can restore supply. In severe weather, access to a substation may not be possible, particularly if the substation is flooded. The Electricity (Standards of performance) regulations 2015 cite lack of access to premises, including the energy network’s own premises, as an exemption to the circumstances in which compensation might be paid.

“Exemptions from the normal and severe weather restoration standards 9(8)(c) the inability of the relevant operator to obtain any necessary access to any premises (which may include its own premises).”

Where an energy network has experienced a delay in accessing its substation, Ombudsman Services would expect the network to restore supply within the timescales set out in the guaranteed standards, from the point at which it gained access to its substation.

Flooded properties:

Before an energy network can restore supply, it needs to ensure that it is safe to do so. It may not be safe to restore supply to a flooded property.

Before reenergising a substation, an energy network might need to remove the main fuse from some properties. If an energy network has to remove the main fuse from a property, supply will not return when the energy network reenergises the substation. The energy network cannot replace the main fuse until a qualified electrician has certified the property safe.

Customers should be aware that, as the flooding of their property caused it to be unsafe, it is the responsibility of the customer to appoint and pay for the qualified electrician. The energy network is not responsible for any delays in restoration of supply while waiting for the electrician’s certification.

Customer service:

We recognise that when numerous customers lose supply due to severe weather, energy networks receive an influx of calls. Dealing with these calls, in addition to work to restore supplies, puts severe pressure on energy networks. We would expect energy networks to put resource in place to deal with peaks but there may be delays in answering queries due to prioritising restoration of supplies.

We also recognise that in some circumstances, customers will consider the energy network’s responses unsatisfactory; for example, when a customer wishes to know when the network will restore supply but the network does not know the answer. We would expect energy networks to be courteous in their handling of queries at all times but we would not consider the provision of an unsatisfactory answer to be poor service – if the answer was accurate.