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Our response to the coronavirus outbreak - keeping our customers, colleagues and communities safe

27/03/2020

Open letter from Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks

A huge amount has changed in the last few weeks as we have all moved to support the containment of the Covid 19 outbreak.

In this unprecedented time of uncertainty and disruption, the UK continues to have one of the most reliable energy networks in the world. As the operator of a piece of critical national infrastructure our top priority during the COVID-19 crisis is to keep the power flowing for our 3.5million customers while ensuring vital sites like hospitals receive the electricity supply they need.

We have worked closely with other network operators, Government and the electricity regulator Ofgem to develop contingency plans that will ensure we continue to keep the lights on, maintain network resilience and maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our colleagues and customers during this challenging time. I’d like to share them with you now.

  • Special measures to protect power supply for critical national infrastructure and public service sites; including hospitals, nursing homes, food supply chain businesses, Ministry of Defence sites and prisons.
  • Rapid installation of new connections that will support the containment of COVID-19 including connections for hospitals, care/nursing homes, water treatment works and food supply chain business.
  • A commitment to continue any critical maintenance and repair work that secures the resilience of the electricity network in the short and medium term to keep the power flowing – prioritising power cuts and urgent safety issues.
  • Postponement or cancellation of new network upgrade projects that involve planned interruption of power for customers – unless it assists the restoration of power supply or if not conducting the work poses a danger to the public/ staff/ contactors or it supports short or medium term resilience requirements.
  • Deployment of teams to undertake connections projects that will provide additional resilience to the local or national electricity network – such as additional generation capacity to provide more electricity where it is needed.

This is not business as usual. I would like to thank all of the SP Energy Networks employees who are working tirelessly to keep the lights on. At the heart of our work, safety comes first and we’ve already put major changes in place to keep our staff, contractors and customers safe. In many cases, this has involved redeployment on priority projects that will support the UK’s national effort to tackle the coronavirus.

If you see one of our engineers outside your home, or if they visit your property during the coronavirus emergency, please be assured they are there because it is critical. It’s absolutely essential our network holds up against storms and high winds so our teams are working to maintain and strengthen the resilience of the network we all rely on to take us through this storm season and beyond.

We know that now, more than ever you are relying on us to keep you safe and warm by ensuring the power continues to flow and we are committed to doing just that.

Stay safe,

Frank


Now, more than ever, our services are crucial to the lives of millions of families, businesses and communities across our network areas up and down the country. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation develops, we’ve implemented our business continuity plans and have a dedicated team constantly monitoring and responding. We’ll be continuing to keep you updated and providing key safety advice throughout.

coronavirus reliable networks image

The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is our key priority

As a critical operational business, we have moved at pace and taken steps to segregate our frontline operational and control centre teams. This includes changing shift patterns and splitting the physical location they work in to ensure we can maintain operations in the event of a localised outbreak.

Workforce resilience will continue to be a key priority for us in the weeks and months ahead. Where our actions matter most (like protecting our control rooms, contact centres, engineering colleagues and other business critical employees), we’ve rolled out additional measures like changes to shift patterns and taken steps to train and secure additional resource, both from internal teams and through our links with key contractors.

We have also undertaken intensive deep cleaning, restricting movement in our buildings, restricting non-essential business travel, working from home practices where possible, and additional advice to our staff on keeping themselves safe and well.

We’ve moved quickly to protect our staff and those we interact with, and have implemented measures and protocols to keep everyone safe.

Customer Safety

We would ask our customers to help us respond by letting us know if anyone at the property is self-isolating when they need our support. Our call centres have updated our call scripts to ask for this information in advance if we’re arranging a visit over the phone. We have also provided our front-line field staff with extra PPE supplies to protect themselves and those they come into contact with.

Looking after our vulnerable customers

Vulnerable Customers

As always, we are committed to delivering a first class experience for our customers, and recognise that now more than ever it is critical we look after our most vulnerable. For those who may need a little extra help, we understand that this could be a concerning time and we remain committed to keeping in contact with our customers on our Priority Services Register. You can find out more and sign up to our register (it’s free!) here or alternatively, text PSR to 61999.

We’ve already started to respond

With services of an electricity network operator being so vital, it’s so important we’re prepared for any eventuality.

We want to reassure our customers, stakeholders and those we work with that we have implemented our robust, well-practiced contingency plans to make sure our resilient network continues to deliver services as the COVID-19 pandemic develops.

We’re taken action and our dedicated team are in place to continually monitor the situation as it develops. We’re committed to ensuring a safe, secure and resilient power supply during this crucial time as we all navigate through this pandemic together.

We recognise that, following nationwide social distancing measures, many more people will now be at home, including the elderly and those following guidance. So now, more than ever, we must ensure you continue to receive the most resilient supply we can provide. It is also still the season where stormy weather is most likely to hit, so we are reviewing and reprioritising our essential planned work to maintain and strengthen the resilience of the network we all rely on to take us through this season and beyond.

We’re working hard to ensure we identify any impacts to customers in advance and put mitigations in place to help minimise any disruption to supply which may be experienced. We are also looking at additional measures, including timing and duration, to reduce customer impact for planned interruptions that are for emergency, essential connections or network resilience.

Working with partners from across the industry

With our partners from the other UK electricity networks and other government bodies, we’ve been working to share best practice and strengthen our collective response. You can find out more information on what the energy networks across the UK are doing to respond to the situation on the Energy Networks Association’s website.

We have well-tested contingency plans in place to make sure network companies continue to deliver services to communities we serve across the UK, and this includes industry-wide mutual aid arrangements for people and equipment that might be needed to keep electricity flowing.

We remain in constant contact with government and industry bodies to report on and plan for any possible impacts to our networks that we need to be aware of.

Getting in touch with us

As always, if you have a power cut you can call us 24/7 on 105 no matter who you pay your bill to.

You can also find out more on other ways to get in touch with us here and we’ll continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates here and on our social media channels.

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