Electricity firms to be forced to own up

Electricity companies will be obliged to own up to short disruptions in supply after 2000 outages which large users say cost industry hundreds of thousands of pounds annually. Regional electricity companies are now required to notify Offer, the industry regulator, only of interruptions of 60 seconds or more. But big users say even shorter outages […]

Electricity companies will be obliged to own up to short disruptions in supply after 2000 outages which large users say cost industry hundreds of thousands of pounds annually.

Regional electricity companies are now required to notify Offer, the industry regulator, only of interruptions of 60 seconds or more.

But big users say even shorter outages can ruin industrial processes, incurring losses of thousands of pounds at individual sites. They claim that Offer’s annual reports on distribution and transmission performance have consequently given a misleading picture.

The most recent, in December, indicated that nine of the 14 supply companies had reduced interruptions in 1996 97.

Don McGarrigle, who chairs the electricity group of the Major Energy Users’ Council, said that from the turn of the century, supply companies would be obliged to report ‘all interruptions’.

While the definition of an interruption for reporting purposes has yet to be defined it might not include the automatic circuit-breaking feature that operates for 7 15 seconds when a fault is detected on a transmission line McGarrigle said that it would shorten the present limit.

He said electricity supply companies would have to improve performance radically, or face an embarrassing jump in reported interruptions and possible regulatory penalties when Offer produces post-2000 reports.

However, he said the MEUC’s campaign to secure compensation for consequential as well as actual damage caused by such power outages had not been successful.