MPs grill energy chiefs on power cuts over Xmas

Suzie Neuwirth
A COMMITTEE of MPs yesterday lambasted the bosses of energy distribution network companies, after hundreds of thousands of customers were left without power over Christmas.

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, which distributes energy in London and the south east of England, said that the company’s “tried and tested” plans had struggled to cope with the national reach and severity of the storms.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the energy and climate change committee, said the companies had demonstrated “utter complacency” and said they “lacked any expression of real concern” for their customers.

Strong winds, storms and flooding brought down power networks across the UK over the Christmas period, with the south east of England and northern Scotland worst affected. Hundreds of thousand of homes were left without electricity, some for a number of days.

Mark Mathieson, managing director of networks at SSE, said that staff had reacted quickly but apologised for customers affected.

Scarsella said that UK Power Networks is looking at employing more front-line resources to respond better.

David Smith, head of the Energy Networks Association, said that plans for a 999-style emergency number, as proposed earlier this month, were in the early stages.