Response to the Reviews of the Christmas Storm


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UK Government and Ofgem have today published their reviews into the Christmas storms of 2013.  Both reports recognise the exceptionally bad weather we suffered this winter and praised the work of engineers across all network areas who worked tirelessly to repair faults.

As the DECC report notes, our network area has been in the eye of the storm for the past three months, with multiple storms and flooding impacting on the network – as an example, the Valentine’s day storm was almost of the same magnitude of Christmas. 

The report states that the worst of the weather was recorded in central Southern England and the South East over Christmas:

Throughout December, January and February 2013/14, the UK has been affected by an exceptional run of severe winter storms. The Met Office has confirmed that the two month period covering December and January for the South East and central Southern England has been the wettest since 1910. Widespread high winds have also been recorded across the country, and December 2013 has been confirmed as one of the windiest calendar months for the UK since January 1993.

Our customers in central southern England will remember how terrible the weather was on 23/24 December and again on 26/27 December and I’d like to thank them again for their patience at a time when everyone wanted to be with their family and friends. Customers in the east of our network, in Hampshire, West Sussex and Surrey, bore the brunt of the weather and around 83% of our total faults.  As the winds swept in and gathered pace they not only snapped wooden poles but also uprooted a large number of trees which were loosened by the sodden ground and crashed down over our powerlines and blocked roads.

Although we restored power to 97.4% of our customers within 2 days (99% if you include those who lost power for less than 3 minutes) we are not complacent about our performance.  We have already implemented a number of initiatives to improve customer communications including information on expected restoration times and improvements to our award-winning Power Track App, which gives details of engineers working in your area.  We’re also looking at a number of other areas and would welcome your feedback to our storm consultation which closes on 28 March.

We will work constructively with the Regulator by bringing forward our response to your storm feedback. We will also work with all parties in order to introduce a three-digit number, similar to 999, so customers know what to do when the weather strikes again. Let’s hope the worst of this exceptional winter is behind us.

About the author

Mark Mathieson Managing Director, Networks

Mark joined SSE in 1988 as a graduate trainee and is responsible for SSE’s electricity networks, lighting services and telecoms businesses.

Read more articles by Mark Mathieson