Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Deputy Director General for Scotland, Office of Electricity Regulation

  Thank you for your letter of 30 March seeking a memorandum on the impact of the Boxing Day storms on the British public electricity suppliers.

  The storms impacted particularly badly on ScottishPower, Northern Electric and NORWEB, although other companies were also affected. In total nearly a million customers lost supply as a result of the storms, some remaining off-supply for a full week.

  We have instigated a full inquiry into the way companies handled the problems suffered during the storms, and expect to publish a report within the next three weeks. I will ensure that your are sent a copy of this report once it is published.

  You specifically ask about levels of capital expenditure. This is an issue being taken forward as part of the Distribution Price Control Review, where I expect to make firm proposals in November. There is a fine judgement to be made between increasing expenditure to improve reliability and increasing costs, particularly as it is unclear how far customers are willing to meet these costs. We have commissioned an independent survey of customers seeking their views and are also considering closely the companies' own proposals in this areas. I will ensure you receive a copy of our next consultation paper on the Distribution Price Control Review, scheduled for mid-May, which will cover this issue.

12 April 1999

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