Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Electricity Supply Board

  The storm of 26 December caused extensive damage to ESB networks and supply interruptions to customers, particularly in Connaught, Ulster and North Leinster. Operating staff and repair crews worked over the following six days to repair damaged networks and restore supply to the affected customers. The storm, with gusts up to 111 mph recorded, was the worst to hit the north of the country for over 35 years and maximum wind speeds were on a par with those of hurricane "Debbie" in 1961.

  At its peak on 26 December, 185,000 customers, representing 12.5 per cent of our customer base, lost supply and the progress of supply restoration was as set out below:
Supply restored toStill without supply overnight
26 December85,000100,000
27 December40,00060,000
28 December35,00025,000
29 December13,00012,000
30 December10,0002,000
31 December1,800200
1 January200

  In our Northern Region, which includes Ulster counties, North Connaught and North Leinster 40 per cent of customers lost supply.

  The main locations were as follows:
CountiesNumber of customers
without supply
Sligo Branch (includes Donegal, Sligo Leitrim and North Mayo) 57,000
Galway Branch (includes Counties Galway and South Mayo) 30,000
Dundalk Branch (includes Counties Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath) 42,000
Athlone Branch (includes Counties Longford, Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly) 35,000

  Compensation was not paid to customers who suffered extended outages due to this extreme event. In line with our Customer Charter, we normally make payments when customers lose supply for longer than 24 hours. However, this guarantee does not apply to major storms where, through circumstances largely outside our control, there is likely to be extensive disruption to our networks. In these circumstances we commit ourselves to doing everything possible to restore supply as soon as possible.

22 March 1999

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