Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Scottish and Southern Energy plc


  As you are aware, Scottish Hydro-Electric is part of the Scottish and Southern Energy Group and I have attached a short report providing the information requested in your letter. Southern Electric has also written to provide you with the required information.

  Scottish Hydro-Electric carried out a review of its customer communications arrangements after the severe weather experienced during Christmas of 1995. Following a thorough investigation to determine where improvements could be made, action was initiated to ensure that the quality and resilience of our communications system was improved. We believe that this action, coupled with our investment in the network and our well rehearsed emergency procedures, means we are now in a stronger position to restore supplies effectively and maintain communications with customers in the event of a major supply interruption.

  The attached information is taken from the report which was submitted to OFFER to assist with their own investigation of the storms experienced over the festive period.

Numbers of Customers Off Supply (estimated at the time during the storms)
DateDue to stormsTotal number
Saturday 26 December51,344 51,344
Sunday 27 December13,562 14,491
Monday 28 December2,944 2,968
Tuesday 29 December0 3,500
Wednesday 30 December0 3,126
Thursday 31 December0 6,396

  NB: Total number of customers affected by storms over the period of 67,850 represents approximately 11 per cent of our total customer base of 640,000. These figures represent the number of customers affected by Distribution voltage faults.

  We also experienced seven faults at Transmission voltages which affected 72,165 customers on 26 December (five faults) and 2,904 customers (two faults) on 27 December. Fortunately, these faults were able to be restored by remote switching.
Speed of Restoration
Time offNumber of customers
0 to 3 hours34,201
3 to 6 hours8,545
6 to 12 hours12,393
12 to 18 hours7,410
18 to 24 hours1,151
24 to 36 hours1,396
36 to 48 hours698
48 to 60 hours23
60 to 72 hours17
Over 72 hours1

  These figures represent the total number of customer interruptions experienced during the storms at Christmas time.
Compensation payments—this table is taken directly from the information supplied to OFFER to assist them with their investigation into the storms. It is therefore in the same format as the table provided to OFFER

Automatic payments
Payments following internal investigation
(a)Number of customers receiving automatic payments: 82 Number of customers writing to request compensation: 769
(b)Total number of automatic payments made: 82 Total number of "goodwill" payments made: 439
(c)Total amount paid: £4,100 Total amount paid: £38,450
(d)Number of "goodwill" payments refused: 330
(e)Total number of "goodwill" claims outstanding as at 5 March 1999: 12

  Scottish Hydro-Electric has treated each case on an individual basis in order to determine whether or not a payment was due under the terms of the Performance Standard (GS2). Customers were required to make a claim in the usual manner by writing to us and we looked at the action which was taken in restoring their supplies to assess if there was anything we could have done to get them back on supply sooner. Goodwill payments have been made (see table) to customers who were badly affected and these payments were usually £50.

17 March 1999

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