Memorandum submitted by Northern Ireland
Electricity plc to the Northern Ireland Affairs |
Committee enquiry into the electricity
supply problems in Northern Ireland over the Christmas and New Year holiday periods
The memorandum is presented at the request of
the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The memorandum provides
a summary of the key facts which relate to the disruption of electricity
supplies across the Province on Boxing Day and beyond. The disruption
to supplies was a result of the severe and widespread storm damage
resulting from the worst storm experienced in Northern Ireland
since records began in 1928. NIE is currently finalising a comprehensive
review of every aspect of its response during the storms.
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has decided
to conduct a brief enquiry into the electricity supply problems
in Northern Ireland over the Christmas and New Year holiday periods.
The terms of reference are:
"To consider the failure of Northern
Ireland Electricity to respond effectively to supply problems
arising from the inclement weather conditions over the Christmas
and New Year holiday periods, the company's compensation proposals,
and ways in which future improvement can be effected."
As a result of the widespread disruption to
supplies and the problems experienced in the initial stages in
maintaining contact with customers, a Storm Review Panel was commissioned
by the Group Chief Executive, Viridian plc, under the company's
Terms of Reference for major incidents.
The Terms of Reference were as follows:
To review and report on the extent and duration
of the extremely serious loss of supplies to customers resulting
from the Boxing Day storms and the subsequent communication difficulties.
The investigation should ascertain the problems
encountered, particularly taking account of widespread customer
dissatisfaction, and recommend where improvements can be made
the ability of the system to better
withstand such extreme conditions;
the management of restoration
communications with the media
and access to customers;
restoration information from the
The Panel has undertaken a comprehensive and
wide ranging review of all the main aspects of our response during
the storms with a view to establishing the lessons to be learned.
In conducting its review, the Panel has taken
account of the views of many customers affected by the storm,
has met with District Councils and Assembly members, and received
inputs from the Northern Ireland Consumer Committee for Electricity
It is NIE's intention to discuss its findings
and recommendations with Assembly members, District Councils and
with NICCE and the Director General. It is also NIE's intention
to publicise a report on its findings.
This memorandum has been informed by the work
of this Review Panel. The memorandum sets out the response of
NIE to the severe storm conditions, the future improvements which
it is recommending and a summary of the goodwill payments made
in recognition of the inconvenience and frustration caused by
the loss of electricity supply to individual customers.
2. THE STORM
The hurricane conditions experienced on 26 December
1998 were the worst in some 70 years and the damage to our networks
was very extensive, beyond anything previously experienced. The
scale of damage as measured by the number of damaged poles, the
number of faults due to damage to lines by wind and fallen branches
or trees, was five-10 times that experienced during the Christmas
1997 storm. The complexity of damage, including in particular
the level of damage to our high voltage "back-bone"
networks, the multiplicity of faults on faulted sections at high
and low voltage, and the sheer volume and widespread nature of
faults made the process of damage assessment and estimation of
restoration times very difficult.
Of our 681,000 customers we had some 162,000
customers affected by supply interruptions on Boxing Day, resulting
in an unprecedented number of telephone calls to our Call Centres
over several days. In the week from Boxing Day, we had around
seven times as many calls as in the corresponding week of the
Christmas storms in 1997.
As a result of the large volumes of calls received,
it was close to impossible to deliver a satisfactory call-handling
service through our Call Centres. An automatic messaging system,
which should have been able effectively to significantly increase
our call-handling capability, was unavailable during the critical
first 12 to 24 hours of the crisis. Even beyond the initial stages,
when we had again doubled our call handling capability with extra
call handlers and with additional sub-contracted call centre support,
we still had great difficulty in providing customers with personal
contact and with the type of detailed information in relation
to restoration times that we would like to have been able to provide.
Our repair teams managed to restore some 100,000
customers by midnight on Boxing Day even before the storm has
abated, and continued for the rest of the week to work extremely
long days and through the hours of darkness. The main restoration
process required several days and some customers remained off-supply
right up until New Year's Day.
In the consultation process since the storm,
the feedback from customers and public representatives, etc.,
has clearly highlighted that the customer communications problem
was the key issue. This was, in the first instance, the inability
of customers to contact NIE to inform us they were off supply
and then, later in the event, the difficulty customers experienced
in obtaining useful restoration information.
3. THE NORTHERN
The NIE network delivers electricity supplies
to customers though a system of overhead lines and underground
cables which are part of the transmission and distribution network.
Our distribution network is predominantly on
overhead lines in which the 33kV and 11kV networks are made up
of some 23,000 km of overhead line and 3,700 km of underground
cable, mainly in Belfast and other urban areas. This high proportion
of overhead network arises because our customer base is widely
dispersed throughout a large rural community.
Consequently, NIE's network is distinguished
from that of the other UK electricity distribution companies by
having one of the highest ratios of overhead line length per customer,
exceeded only by Scottish Hydro Electric.
To maintain and operate the network, NIE has
in place a comprehensive capital expenditure programme. In the
10 years prior to privatisation, just over £300 million was
committed to network investment. During the 10 year period post-privatisation,
NIE has committed to an investment programme of some £570
million. Network performance investment has been targeted on the
11kV network, where a programme of refurbishment has been undertaken.
This has been successful in improving network availability which
as been reflected in an improvement in the Customer Minutes Lost
(CML) indexa measure employed by the industry to define
network performance. During the recent price control review and
subsequent referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC),
NIE proposed that refurbishment at the rate of 1,750 km per year
was necessary. The MMC determined that the new price controls
should be set on the basis of a programme of 1,500 km per year.
In NIE's assessment of the recent severe weather and the damage
to the network, we are now reviewing the level of investment in
It is impossible to make an overhead electricity
network 100 per cent proof against hurricane conditions, nor is
it practicable to provide facilities whereby all customers affected
by a major disruption of electricity supplies can have immediate
and simultaneous direct access to customer service agents.
4. RESTORATION OF
The main operational units involved in an emergency
response are the Control Centres, the Incident Room, the Call
Centres, the Customer Service Centres and the Communications Department.
Each of these played an important role in our overall response
to the disruption to electricity supplies created by the Boxing
We had to deal with over 650,000 attempts by
customers to call us on our telephone helpline, with over 300,000
on Boxing Day alone. In preparation for a large increase in calls
on Boxing Day based on weather warnings and in accordance with
contingency plan arrangements, staffing levels at the Call Centres
had been increased. While we acknowledge the frustrations caused,
we are committed to delivering step change improvements in dealing
with similar emergencies.
Supplies to 61 per cent of those customers affected
by the storms on Boxing Day were restored by midnight. This was
primarily achieved by the restoration of the "backbone"
network. This in itself is a clear indication of our state of
readiness and the effectiveness of our escalation procedures.
Due to the large number of individual faults on the network, and
additional disruption as a result of further weather systems,
restoration work continued until New Year's Day. Over 600 field
staff and three helicopters were deployed during the restoration
effort. Linesmen were supported by a range of other staff, including
plant electricians, metering electricians, underground cable jointers
and meter readers, who undertook various duties such as assessing
damage, replacing blown fuses, collecting materials from stores
and many more.
Field staff, including contractors' linesmen,
worked very long hours in what were atrocious weather conditions,
and despite the very long hours worked a high level of safety
5. FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS
The recommendations contained in this section
are the outcome of our initial, albeit very extensive, review.
Over the next three months we will conduct a wider review of the
policies, procedures, experience and systems of other utilities
who deal with hurricane conditions on a regular basis.
Over the next six months we will continue to
implement the full outcome of this review process and our aim
will be to have further substantial improvements in our performance
capability in place for next autumn and winter. In addition, we
will have agreed programmes of investment already underway and
in place for the medium-term development of the network.
The following sections set out our recommendations
in three critical areas of:
improving communications with customers;
improving the management of restoration
of supplies, including improving the information from the field;
improving the ability of the network
to better withstand such extreme conditions.
5.1.1 We will implement measures which will significantly
increase our future call handling performance.
We will move towards best practice
by doubling our call handling capacity through our own resources
and sub-contracting to other Call Centre companies.
A planned escalation procedure will
be put in place to deploy call handling staff within two hours
from the declaration of an emergency.
A new Interactive Voice Response
(IVR) system will provide a range of facilities, including a more
effective recorded messaging system and supplementary call-handling
In conjunction with British Telecom,
we will complete as a matter of urgency the review of the telecommunications
facilities provided by BT upon which we depend in responding to
widespread disruption of electricity supplies.
The BT Message Link service will
continue to provide a fall-back facility as required for callers
who are not answered directly by call handlers or are not catered
for by our IVR system.
We will initially double the number
of lines available to our own operators and the lines available
to our IVR system.
We will conduct a full analysis of
the Message Link problem, including BT's response to the fault,
BT's action to reduce customer access to the 0345 643643 Helpline,
congestion at local exchanges and why some calls were connected
to other 0345 numbers.
The facility of independent direct
lines for public representatives will be extended and will be
fully operational prior to the onset of any future major storm
5.1.2 We will implement measures to improve the
information available to call handlers.
Customer fault information will be
provided through full-text scripts rather than data tables which
require operator interpretation. Advance training and appropriate
incident information will also be provided to assist call handlers'
understanding of the customers' use of townlands, place names
and other local geography.
Co-ordination of press releases and
media announcements will be such as to ensure formal advance briefing
of call handling staff and a more effective management of staff
resources to allow for the subsequent expected increase in telephone
We will train all Call Centre staff
in all aspects of emergencies and aim to supplement the normal
call centre staff with emergency standby staff who will be given
advance training in call handling procedures.
We will accelerate the delivery of
our new Customer Service IT systems to improve the quality and
speed of information to customers in storm conditions. We will
focus on the delivery of the first stage of improvements by November
5.1.3 We will implement recommendations to improve
our response to customers requiring special attention.
The Special Needs Response Unit will
be established as soon as an incident is declared and independent
direct lines will be provided to public representatives. The introduction
of the special help line for public representatives has been welcomed
during our consultation process. In addition, a network of public
representatives will by "polled" at least twice a day
to ensure that we meet their needs in relation to special cases
brought to their attention.
Within 24 hours of an incident, we
will contact all affected customers who are registered on our
medical support equipment register.
Within 12 hours of the need being
identified we will ensure that registered customers' medical requirements
are responded to through a network of health services and voluntary
agencies which we will aim to establish in advance.
We will maintain contact as required
with special needs customers throughout the duration of the emergency.
We will actively promote the medical
support equipment register and offer customers registration through
relevant medical and voluntary agencies.
We will encourage customers to help
us keep up to date details of how we may contact them and we will
update information held on this register at least twice per year.
We will formalise arrangements with
providers of vital services (water, communications, hospitals
and transport) to ensure that appropriate contacts are maintained.
All these services will be contacted within three hours of the
incident and action taken to ensure that, wherever possible, supply
is maintained or restored.
Agreement will be sought for establishing
an external forum to ensure effective liaison with appropriate
public bodies on matters such as public safety and the co-ordination
of special support services as required in widespread emergencies
of this nature.
5.1.4 We will put into operation a comprehensive
media communications strategy in the event of future major disruption
to electricity supplies.
In the light of similar storm forecasts
in the future, all media will be advised in advance of possible
interruptions to electricity supplies and asked to broadcast this
information to the public, indicating the extent of the likely
In situations where severe storm
damage has occurred, customers will be advised at the earliest
stage of the widespread nature of the damage. In these circumstances
it is likely that we will state that it is not possible to estimate
accurately how long individual customers will be off-supply and
that the priority will be to restore the "backbone"
of our network as this will restore the largest number of customers
in the shortest possible time. Where appropriate, it will be made
clear that restoration for many customers may take a number of
In the early stages of any future
emergency, our Grid Control will make a high level estimate of
customers affected by reference to load profile.
In the event of a major loss of supply,
the press and all available media channels, including local radio,
will be used to give advice to customers on the scale of the emergency
and the restoration process.
Local Customer Service Centre Managers
will act as a focal point for any required local media contact.
In future emergencies, we will issue
four comprehensive updates to customers and the media each day.
These will be timed to reach the main news bulletins. Our Internet
site will be updated at the same time. We will aim to supplement
these comprehensive updates with two hourly radio bulletins.
Information bulletins will include
advice on safety issues and on how best to protect freezer contents.
5.2.1 We will reinforce our organisation and procedures
for anticipating and quantifying the scale of a major incident.
We will maintain a weekly formal
risk assessment based on weather forecast information which will
be communicated to all operational units including the NIE Executive.
If there is a risk of a major incident, contingency plans will
be advanced to reflect the predicted scale of the problem.
The Incident Room Manager will focus,
in the initial phase, on obtaining an early assessment of the
scale of the emergency in terms of the extent of loss of supply,
our resource capability to deliver restoration, and the expected
length of time to full restoration.
We will supplement the Incident Room
management team with an additional communications resource and
a high level steering group which will maintain an overall view
of how information on the restoration process is communicated
and aligned with the needs of the customer and the public.
5.2.2 We will take steps to secure the availability
of resources and materials in similar emergencies.
We will formalise our arrangements
for the deployment of existing contractors (including helicopters)
and we will put in place more formal relationships with other
electricity companies for the rapid provision of additional manpower
resources and strategic materials.
We will formalise arrangements for
the reporting and mobilisation of all staff to undertake tasks
which may be outside their normal work, and we will provide the
We will confirm our arrangements
regarding the supply of strategic materials used in the repair
of overhead lines, the logistics of the delivery to stores and
the level of stock holdings of those items.
5.2.3 We will improve the systems for passing
fault information to field staff and getting feedback from the
field on restoration progress.
Ahead of the delivery of new systems,
we will urgently review the functions and performance of the computerised
Service Calls (customer fault reporting) System during storm conditions,
with the aim of making interim improvements, including the highlighting
of safety issues, customer care information and repeat customer
The existing Service Calls System
will be extended as far as possible to be accessible on-line to
all our in-house Call Centre operators. Where call-handling is
through a third-party Call Centre, our aim will be to ensure that
fault reports from customers are logged into the Service Calls
System with a minimum of delay.
A combination of Post Codes and/or
Townlands (where appropriate) will be included in all information
flows from Call Centres and Customer Service Centres to provide
clearer information to customers off supply.
We will use non-operational staff
to provide field information support in future storms.
The new Customer Service IT systems
will address all aspects of the customer fault reporting system
and will be available on-line to all call handling staff. We will
review the sizing and capacity of the new systems to ensure that
the volumes of calls registered with call handlers in a typical
emergency can be processed within acceptable timescales.
Our new IT systems will provide the
mechanism whereby information from the field can be immediately
made available to call handlers and therefore to customers.
5.2.4 We will adopt measures to enhance the security
of the services provided by NIE Telecommunications.
These measures will include:
Reconfiguration of the corporate
telephone network to maximise capacity and resilience, including
an increase in the number of telephone lines into our Call Centres
as referred to in S.1.1.
Reinforcement of the management system
for the monitoring and control of telecommunication networks;
improvement of the standby power arrangements for key installations;
improvement of the private digital network topology to reduce
the impact of multiple digital network faults; two new private
mobile radio links between Rosebank Control and other Control
Mobile phones to be provided to all
key staff in an emergency.
5.2.5 Changes to organisational arrangements at
Customer Service Centres will be reviewed.
There will be no rationalisation
of the current 13 Customer Service Centres until the new Trouble
Management System and rapid response procedures are fully established
Each Customer Service Centre will
have a manager who will be responsible for leading the local restoration
Future contingency plans should provide
for a full management team at all 13 Customer Service Centres
in an emergency response, and direct updates to these teams and
the Incident Room.
We have reviewed our capital investment programme.
The performance of refurbished 11kV overhead
lines during the storm compared with non-refurbished lines reinforces
the value of prioritised performance improvement expenditure within
the refurbishment programme and it reinforces the need to continue
to target expenditure in this area.
When NIE's price controls were referred to the
Monopolies and Mergers Commission in 1996, the case for higher
levels of expenditure to be allowed specifically for improving
network performance was argued exhaustively and contested by Ofreg.
A balance had to be struck between the need to improve network
performance and the need to reduce electricity prices. We proposed
that the MMC should allow a level of expenditure in this category
which would enable us to ramp-up the 11kV refurbishment programme,
which was already well under way, to refurbish 1,750 km each year
over the five year period. Paragraph 2.129 of the MMC report records
MMC's view, extracts of which are as follows:
"In our view, NIE's target for improvements
in customer minutes lost, while laudable in itself, is more ambitious
than can be justified in the particular circumstances of Northern
Ireland, with its acknowledged problem of high electricity prices
. . . . We consider that it would be consistent with [a] less
ambitious target for NIE to refurbish at the rate of 1,500 km
per year rather than 1,750 km."
We will engage with Ofreg in a discussion on
their approach to higher levels of investment in measures to improve
network performance, as follows:
5.3.1 We are proposing an acceleration of our
programme of full overhead line refurbishment.
We propose an increase in the rate
of our 11kV overhead line refurbishment programme from the previously
planned 1,500 km per year to 1,750 km for 1999-2000 and to 2,000
km per year from 2000-01 and 2001-02. This will give an average
of 1,750 km per year for the five year period 1997-98 to 2001-02.
Over the total five year period, we will fully refurbish 8,750
km of overhead line. This was the figure that NIE proposed at
the MMC inquiry in 1996. By 31 March 2002, the refurbishment programme
which began shortly after privatisation will have refurbished
65 per cent of the total 11kV circuit length.
We propose to significantly increase
the level of 33kV overhead line refurbishment to refurbish 1,100
km over the same period. By 31 March 2002, almost 45 per cent
of the total 33kV circuit length will have been refurbished.
In order to improve the resilience
of the LV network to storm conditions, we propose to accelerate
our long term programme of replacing overhead lines and under-eave
wiring in urban areas. We will also extend this programme to include
some of the open wire systems on the outskirts of urban areas.
These will be principally replaced by underground cabling, with
the alternative of aerial bundled conductor considered where appropriate.
Over the next three years, we will replace 120 km of overhead
LV network in this way.
5.3.2 We will target other areas for supplementary
The delivery of the full refurbishment
measures listed above will be challenging in terms of its demand
upon management and resources to undertake the work and to manage
the impact upon customers by minimising the number and duration
of planned outages necessary to carry out the work. At these rates,
it will take 10 years to complete the full refurbishment programme.
Training in live-line working techniques
for additional teams will be introduced to mitigate further supply
interruptions during programmed refurbishment work on the network.
We propose to supplement these full
refurbishment measures with a programme of partial refurbishment
which will target the replacement of poles nearing the end of
their useful life on those circuits which are not immediately
scheduled for full refurbishment. Over the remaining three years
of the current price control period, the supplementary programme
will cover 750 km of 33kV circuits and 2,500k m of 11kV circuits.
This is estimated to involve the replacement of almost 10,000
Taken together, the full refurbishment
programme and the supplementary programme, when extended into
the next price control period, will ensure that the complete 33kV
and 11kV networks have been improved by one or other form of refurbishment
within the next six years.
We also propose to extend LV refurbishment
beyond urban areas to include 2,400 km of suburban and rural areas,
targeting the replacement of those poles classified as decayed.
When taken together with the urban programme, the LV overhead
network will have been refurbished within six to seven years.
|Summary of proposed HV and LV refurbishment programmes to March 2002
|Voltage||1999-00 km||2000-01 km
||2001-02 km||Total km
5.3.3 We propose to reallocate expenditure to finance the accelerated
The additional work implicit within these accelerated
refurbishment programmes would require expenditure of around £24
million over the next three years, the financing of which would
require expenditure to be reallocated from other categories of
expenditure reviewed by MMC. The reallocation is justified on
a redefinition of the priority which should be given to improving
network performance to provide greater resilience to a similar
At the time when OFREG comes to set new price
controls, we would recommend that they should be set on a basis
which would fund the expenditure necessary to maintain refurbishment
at these levels as a minimum.
5.3.4 We propose to accelerate our tree pruning programme.
A significant proportion (24 per cent) of the
faults during the Boxing Day storms were caused by trees interfering
with overhead lines. In recent years, NIE has significantly increased
the amount of tree pruning on the network. We will ensure the
continuation of this plan at a level which brings tree pruning
into a secure five-year cycle, which covers the entire network
as shown in Table 2.
|Proposed tree pruning plan
|Proposed tree cutting||km
6. AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
NIE's obligation to provide compensation payments is defined
within our Customer Standards. These do not apply in situations
where severe weather conditions result in disruption to supplies.
However, in recognition of the inconvenience to customers
caused by the extended supply interruptions, we are making goodwill
payments on the following basis:
Customers who were continually off-supply for more than 24
hours during the period 26 December to 1 January will receive
a goodwill payment of £115, which includes £50 towards
fridge/freezer contents. This payment is credited automatically
to bills sent out after 1 February and customers can request a
cheque payment at any time. All customers will be advised as appropriate,
via their bill, that if they feel they are entitled to
a payment and a credit has not been made, then they should contact
Those customers who were off-supply from 26 December to 7.00
pm on 30 December may also apply for a Hot Meal Allowance of £12
per person per day from 30 December. In addition, a Bed and Breakfast
Allowance of £40 per adult and £20 per child will be
paid for each evening from 31 December if customers were continually
without power from 26 December to 1 January. Details of how to
make these claims together with claim forms have been advertised
in the local press.
We have conducted a comprehensive review of all of the main
aspects of our response during the storms with a view to establishing
the lessons to be learned to ensure a step change in performance
under similar conditions in the future, particularly in the area
of communications with the public. We have had the benefit of
direct feedback from customers and from meetings with a wide range
of public representatives. We have also had the opportunity to
compare our experience with ESB in the Republic of Ireland and
with Scottish Power in Scotland, both of which were similarly
affected by the storm and had very large number of customers off-supply,
very high customer call volumes and extended periods before full
restoration of supplies.
We will begin to implement a range of recommendations arising
from our present review with the aim of securing, from the earliest
possible moment, an improvement in performance in similar storm
conditions in the future.
However, as we have indicated, we see a need to evaluate
rigorously the potential for further improvement beyond our initial,
albeit very extensive, recommendations. For example, in the area
of call handling and restoration, we intend progressing immediately
to a doubling of our existing call-handling capacity based on
existing technology and systems. We see the potential for new
technology and systems-based solutions to produce a further significant
improvement in performance. And in the area of investment for
network performance improvement, we believe there is room for
an accelerated programme of investment to take us beyond the levels
indicated within the MMC price review and therefore considerably
beyond the levels of investment originally favoured by Ofreg in
this area. We intend, therefore, to continue over the next three
months a wider review of our policies, procedures and systems,
as well as a review of the policies, procedures, experience and
systems of other utilities, including US utilities who deal with
hurricane conditions on a regular basis. We will also open up
a dialogue with Ofreg specifically on their approach to higher
levels of investment in network performance improvement.
The work of implementing the full outcome of our process
of review will continue over the next six months, with the target
of having further substantial improvements in our performance
capability in place for next autumn and winter and agreed programmes
of investment already underway and in place for medium-term development
of the network.
Even after the implementation of these performance improvements,
it will have to be accepted that:
outside the urban centres there will continue
to be a very large number of customers served by rural overhead
line, which will remain very extensive right across Northern Ireland;
these overhead line networks will continue to
be vulnerable to damage in hurricane conditions such as experienced
on Boxing Day, leading to loss of supply potentially to very large
numbers of customers;
in the first 36 hours after such hurricane damage,
the best information that we can make available is that we have
widespread damage to our overhead line networks, that the process
of damage assessment will take time and it will not be possible
in the early stages to make accurate estimates of restoration
times for individual customers;
typically 80-90 per cent of customers will be
reconnected within the first 36 hours but there will be some customers
who will inevitably remain off-supply for 4-6 days before they
are reached in the restoration process, and customers need to
plan individually on the most pessimistic assumption;
in the case of very large numbers of customers
off-supply, communications networks and our call-handling capability
will be heavily stressed, customers will continue to have great
difficulty in getting through to our customer service agents and
very many customers will have to rely in the initial stages on
automatic call-messaging and answering services and media broadcasts
However, what we can aim to provide is:
an expanded emergency call-handling capability
and improved systems which enable a greater number of customers
to make the vital initial contact earlier to report their own
a much improved (two hourly) public broadcast
providing customers with regular accurate information updates
on damage assessment and the process of restoration;
a more extensive database on our customer care
register, which enables us to better identify customers with special
needs, such as a dependence on electricity for equipment for medical
a greatly strengthened network of contingency
communications which ensures that public representatives, other
key service providers, voluntary organisations, etc., are kept
informed on the damage assessment and restoration processes and
are able to respond to the needs of individual customers and customer
groups with special needs;
an incremental improvement to our damage assessment
and restoration processes so that, as far as possible, the length
of time any customer is off-supply is reduced to the minimum consistent
with priorities in restoration and the resources available.
The following decisions were in train or will now be progressed
for immediate implementation:
£2 million expenditure will be spent on increasing
our communications capacity and on technology to enhance our call-handling
there will be an acceleration of the £12
million of planned investment in Customer Service and IT programmes,
including the new Trouble Management System, which will enable
information to be obtained and distributed to customers and the
media more rapidly;
We will propose to Ofreg that £24 million
of capital expenditure should be reallocated into an accelerated
programme of network refurbishment. This will greatly reduce the
time required to refurbish the electricity network in Northern
falling trees and branches caused nearly 25 per
cent of faults during the storm. We will be seeking the co-operation
of landowners to enable us to step up our tree-pruning programme
we will host an inter-agency forum to enable utility
providers and government agencies to develop and co-ordinate plans
to respond effectively to emergency situations.
NIE is committed to the delivery of electricity to customers
in an efficient and secure manner. We will continue to seek out
opportunities and methods of improving every aspect of our service