Companies pay £10.5 million over 9 August power cut
Ofgem’s investigation into the power cuts of 9 August found that the combined loss of two large generators, as well as the smaller loss of generation at a local level, together triggered the subsequent disconnection, loss of power and disruption to more than one million consumers.
- Hornsea One Ltd and RWE agree to pay out £4.5 million for not remaining connected after the lightning strike
- UKPN will also pay out £1.5 million after a technical breach of rules
- Ofgem also identified issues surrounding National Grid Electricity System Operator’s (ESO) management of the system
- Ofgem will accelerate its already planned review of ESO’s structure and governance
This included many rail passengers. Ofgem has worked closely with the Office of Rail and Road which has today published its findings into rail companies’ roles in the disruption. It found that software flaws on some trains caused extended delays for commuters.
Ofgem has concluded that two large power stations, Hornsea One Ltd (co-owned by Orsted) and Little Barford (operated by RWE) did not remain connected after the lightning strike. They have agreed to make a voluntary payment of £4.5 million each into Ofgem’s redress fund.
Ofgem found that local network operators disconnected and reconnected consumers in response to the loss of power as expected. However, UK Power Networks began reconnecting customers without being asked to by the ESO, which could have potentially jeopardised recovery of the system. This has no impact on 9 August and UK Power Networks has recognised this technical breach, taken swift action to prevent any future reoccurrence, and agreed to pay £1.5 million into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund. All parties have fully cooperated with the regulator throughout its investigation.
Ofgem’s investigation has raised questions about how the ESO’s management of the system is carried out. The incident has underlined the importance of ESO adapting to the complex and changing world it operates in.
Ofgem has already announced that it will be conducting a review into the structure and governance of the ESO, and the concerns raised in this investigation will inform this work. Ofgem will consider a number of options for how the system operator is structured, governed and managed, and work closely with BEIS ahead of its position paper on system governance in 2020.
Ofgem has also made recommendations to ensure the UK continues to have one of the world’s most reliable electricity systems in the world, particularly as more small scale generation is connected to the system.
Jonathan Brearley, Executive Director, said:
“Consumers and businesses rely on generators and network companies to provide a secure and stable power supply. August 9th showed how much disruption and distress is caused to consumers across the UK when this does not happen. That is why it is right that companies that were unable to keep generating have paid into our consumer redress fund.
“Our investigation has raised important questions about National Grid’s Electricity System Operator, which is why our review will look at the structure and governance of the company.
“As the energy market changes it is vitally important we futureproof the networks to ensure consumers continue to benefit from one of the most reliable electricity systems in the world.”
- An offshore wind farm operated by Hornsea One Ltd and a gas power station operated by RWE and both stopped generating on 9 August shortly after a lightning strike. These technical issues were unforeseen and quickly resolved although they did contribute to the power cut. At the same time, approximately 150MW of smaller generation, known as distributed generation, also went offline and stopped generating. NGESO activated back-up power generators to make up some of the shortfall of the two large generators and distributed generation to balance the system. However, when there was not enough back-up power generation available, local network operators automatically disconnected some consumers from the grid in order to prevent further system-wide disruption.
- All customers were reconnected by the Distribution Network Operators within 45 minutes of the lightning strike.
- UK Power Networks early restoration of customers across parts of its network, had no bearing on the original loss of power or the outcome of the event. However, it could have had an impact on the recovery of the system.
- The biggest impact was on the rail network due to design flaws on some trains. Those affected by the rail disruption are able to apply to rail operators for compensation.
For media, contact
Stephen Roberts: 07990 139516
Media out of hours mobile: 07766 511470 (media calls only)
General enquiries (non-media)
If you are an energy customer looking for help and advice, including complaints about energy firms, please see our Household gas and electricity guide. Citizens Advice also provide a free, impartial helpline service across a range of issues on 03454 040506.
We also regularly share news and post general advice to help consumers get the most out of their energy services via our @Ofgem twitter and Facebook pages.If you have an enquiry or complaint relating to Ofgem’s policies or functions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7901 7295.
For all other non-media related enquiries, please visit our Contact us page.
Ofgem is the independent energy regulator for Great Britain. Its priority is to make a positive difference for consumers by promoting competition in the energy markets and regulating networks.
For energy insights and updates straight to your inbox from Ofgem, please subscribe.
Latest News from
Ofgem publishes price cap decisions ahead of update05/08/2020 10:15:00
Ofgem has today published three decisions relating to the price protection provided to default tariff and prepayment customers following its statutory consultations published in May.
Ofgem proposals to ‘turn your street green’, transforming local electricity networks31/07/2020 10:33:00
Ofgem yesterday set out its proposals to rewire Britain at a local level to deliver a greener and fairer energy system for British consumers.
Fairer energy deals for microbusinesses30/07/2020 13:15:00
Ofgem has unveiled plans to tackle unscrupulous energy brokers so millions of microbusinesses can get a better deal.
Ofgem investigates United Gas and Power Ltd’s billing and communications activities16/07/2020 13:15:00
Ofgem is launching an investigation into whether United Gas and Power breached rules around billing, meter reading and communications.
Ofgem proposes £25 billion to transform Great Britain’s energy networks09/07/2020 14:48:00
Ofgem has unveiled proposals for a five-year investment programme of around £25 bn to transform Britain's energy networks to deliver emissions-free green energy for GB along with world-class service and reliability.
More help for prepayment customers and those struggling with bills30/06/2020 13:15:00
Ofgem is consulting on plans to standardise and strengthen support for prepayment customers and for all customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills.
Ofgem publishes final proposals on raising standards for existing suppliers26/06/2020 13:15:00
Ofgem has published its final proposals for new ongoing requirements for suppliers to drive up customer service standards, reduce the risk of supplier failure and strengthen the safety net for consumers if a supplier fails.
£60 million savings on new Hinkley Point C grid link22/05/2020 12:15:00
Energy regulator Ofgem has confirmed its decision to cut the proposed cost of the Hinkley-Seabank project by £60m, saving consumers money on their bills.