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Former energy minister Charles Hendry to review our Storm Arwen Rural Communities Response


We’ve confirmed that former UK Energy Minister Rt Hon Charles Hendry CBE has agreed to lead a review of our operational response to Storm Arwen, with a particular focus on the rural communities worst affected.

Our teams worked to restore power to the 200,000 customers impacted, often in challenging weather conditions, to connect 88% of customers in the first 24 hours following the storm and 96% within 48 hours. However, a significant number of rural customers and communities were without power for more than 2 days and we recognise the impact that this has had upon those customers.

As the independent Chair of the rural communities review, Mr Hendry will consider:

  • Our response and communications with rural communities during a major storm event, and what improvements can be made;
  • Our role in working with local authorities and Resilience Fora during a storm response, and how jointly this could be improved; and
  • looking ahead to Net Zero, how network and electricity resilience in rural areas could be improved, to ensure that the balance of costs and resilience is met appropriately.

Mr Hendry’s review will be supported by an expert panel drawn from local communities, and its findings are expected to be published towards the end of March 2022.

Rt Hon Charles Hendry CBE said: “The scale of the damage caused by Storm Arwen is some of the worst the UK’s power networks have experienced in over 25 years. While it is incredibly rare for homes to be without power for the lengths of time we have seen in the past week, we need to take stock and understand what could be done differently to prepare or respond to an event like this to minimise its effect in future.

“Clearly those in rural communities were affected the worst, and so we’ll be focusing on those areas to ensure their voices are heard along with specific engagement with local authority emergency planning teams, Local Resilience Partnership fora and the Scottish and Welsh Government resilience teams.”

Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks, added: “We remain incredibly grateful to our customers for their patience as our engineers worked tirelessly to make repairs safely amid some continuing challenging weather conditions, but we also appreciate the worry and uncertainty over the length of time without power has brought to some customers. 

“We apologise again to everyone affected by the damage to the power network caused by the storm. The devastation right across the communities we serve from Fife, Lothian & Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Cheshire, North & Mid Wales from north easterly wind speeds of up to 97mph, was far greater than we have seen for at least 25 years.

“I expect the post-storm review of the impact on rural communities, led by the Rt Hon Charles Hendry, to provide independent scrutiny of our service to customers during Storm Arwen, including our operational response, the effectiveness of our communication with customers and the support provided to rural communities.

“It is important that the voices of the rural communities we serve are heard in this review, and that we learn lessons from the experience of Storm Arwen in order to improve our response for the future.” 

Following the severe impact on our network caused by Storm Arwen, we have announced additional compensation of £150 per household to those off for more than 48 hours as an apology for the disruption caused. More information is available here. 


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