After the difficulties suffered by the rural communities that we serve during Storm Arwen, our CEO Frank Mitchell asked the former UK Energy Minister, Rt Hon Charles Hendry CBE, to undertake an independent review of our response and make recommendations for improvement.
The report focuses on how the rural communities we serve were affected, and how our network and operations can become even more resilient for future events of this nature.
Storm Arwen was the worst storm we’ve experienced in decades. Although 96% of our customers were unaffected by the storm, around 189,000 properties were impacted and our teams had to work tirelessly to restore power to these customers, often in extremely challenging weather conditions.
We're proud to say that, thanks to incredible efforts of our employees, partners and support networks - 88% of our customers impacted by Storm Arwen were reconnected in the first 24 hours following the storm and 96% were reconnected within 48 hours. We also moved quickly to proactively recognise the extreme nature of events, the time of the year on the run up to Christmas and offered an extra payment to all customers who were off for longer than 48 hours (in addition to the statutory compensation already due). The first of the network companies impacted by this storm to do so.
Our proactive efforts have been recognised by Ofgem in their report into the industry response to Storm Arwen which was published on 9 June. The report stated:
“We assessed SPEN's response to the storm and considered that further redress was not required as they had already paid an additional £150 to all customers who were off supply for more than 48 hours, reconnected customers sooner and paid out compensation to affected customers more quickly than NPG, ENWL and SSEN.”
With that said, a number of rural customers and communities were without power for more than two days and we recognise the incredible impact this had on these customers. That’s why the findings and recommendations made in this report are so important to us.
We’re committed to learning from our customers’ experiences, and we will always strive to improve everything we do for the communities who rely on us.
Demonstrating this commitment, we were the only network operator to commission an independent report into Storm Arwen – focused on the communities we serve, scrutinising our service to customers impacted during the storm, our operational response, the effectiveness of our communication and the support we provided to rural communities.
As the independent Chair of the Rural Communities Review, Mr Hendry considered:
- Our response and communications with rural communities during a major storm event, and what improvements could be made;
- Our role in working with local authorities and Resilience Forums 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 was supported by input from Local Resilience Forums & Partnerships and impacted Local Authorities. His work was also heavily influenced by MP/MSP engagement from those that were representing constituents in the worst affected communities.
We are already carefully considering and implementing every recommendation made in the report. Some of these actions will need the cooperation of others to complete. We would like to thank both Charles and all those who participated in the review – helping us to gain a deeper understanding of the issues we face.
It was important the voices of the rural communities we serve were heard in this review, and that we learn lessons from the experience of Storm Arwen in order to improve our response for the future. We are pleased to say that this comprehensive report shows our commitment to making this happen.
Click here to read the full independent review on our response to Storm Arwen.