SSE and UK Power Networks (UKPN) have been forced to pay out over £8 millon following Ofgem’s investigation into their performances during the storms at Christmas last year in the south of England which left 16,000 customers without power for over 48 hours.
The regulator said that both companies, although very badly hit by the storms, should have done more to ensure the power was reconnected and keep customers informed.
An extra £3.3 million has been secured to be given out to charities such as The Red Cross, on top of the £4.7 million already paid to consumers under the guaranteed standards and goodwill payments.
Stuart Hogarth, director of distribution at Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution said: “This winter was one of the worst in living memory. We experienced eight major storm events with the rain, wind and flooding particularly badly at Christmas.
“I’m extremely proud of the dedication and professionalism displayed by our engineers, linesmen, tree cutters and call takers this winter, there are a number of areas where we can improve.”
Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UKPN, said: “Our £1 million donation does not only help customers affected by the extreme weather but it will also help all our customers in a variety of ways as we strengthen our partnerships with charities.
“Customer service is our priority but there is always room for improvement.”
Maxine Frerk, Ofgem’s senior partner for distribution, said: “A power cut at Christmas time is the last thing anyone needs.
“While we recognise the hard work of the companies and their staff who were out working to reconnect customers during the severe weather, the companies could have done more to plan for the weather and keep customers informed.”
The minimum payment for customers who faced at least 24 hours without power has been more than doubled from £27 to £70, while the maximum cap for payments made has been increased from £216 to £700.
Frerk added: “Network companies need to learn the lessons of last winter as a repeat performance will trigger further action from Ofgem.”