Power companies face at least £4million compensation bill after tens of thousands of customers left in the dark on Christmas Day

  • Southern Electric and UK Power Networks to pay customers for outages
  • Payment for those without power on Christmas Day upped from £27 to £75
  • Compensation for those without power for longer periods also increased
  • Companies now facing total costs of more than £4million

By Chris Pleasance

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Power company which left tens of thousands of customers without electricity on Christmas Day are due to pay out millions of pounds in compensation.

Southern Electric, who made a profit of £1.4bn last year, failed to get electricity to 19,500 users in south Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex on December 25 due to flood damage.

On Tuesday afternoon it confirmed it would pay £75 compensation to every customer, regardless of how long the outage lasted, bringing its bill to almost £1.5million.

Power companies are facing payouts worth millions of pounds to customers after leaving tens of thousands without electricity over Christmas

Power companies are facing payouts worth millions of pounds to customers after leaving tens of thousands without electricity over Christmas

UK Power Networks, who had 30,000 customers in Sussex, Surrey and Kent without power on Christmas Day have matched the offer - treble the legal minimum of £27 - costing them another £2.5million.

However the total bill is likely to be higher as customers without power for 60 hours are paid more, and are then paid again for every 12 additional hours it takes to get the problem fixed.

Southern Electric will be writing to every customer who is able to receive the payment to inform them, while UK Power Networks is asking customers to write to them if they think they are eligible.

 

Some UK Power Networks customers were still without electricity five days after the Christmas Eve storms, as the CEO Basil Scarsella admitted fixing power lines had taken so long because engineers were on holiday.

Meanwhile politicians have lined up to criticise the power companies' performance, with MP Tim Yeo confirming that bosses will be called before parliament in the new year to explain themselves.

He told the Telegraph: 'I'm very concerned about how long the network distribution companies took to restore power to thousands of customers. The Committee will call them in when the House gets back.

There were just four people left without power on Monday in Kent, but bad weather is now forecast for the rest of January raising fears of more outages

There were just four people left without power on Monday in Kent, but bad weather is now forecast for the rest of January raising fears of more outages

'I'm already concerned that these distribution companies are not properly scrutinised by Ofgem, despite being effectively monopolies. Their performance over Christmas was unacceptable.'

Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, said that energy companies had failed to prepare for the bad weather by sending too many staff away on holiday.

He branded the poor performance 'unacceptible' and said that bosses had let their customers down badly.

Under the law energy companies are required to pay £27 to any customer without power for 48 hours, and then pay another £54 for anyone without electricity for between 60 and 72 hours.

Customers are then paid again every 12 hours until the problem is fixed, up to a maximum of £216.

However UK Power Networks said last week that it would voluntarily treble the initial payout to £75 as a 'gesture of goodwill', with customers being paid £108 after that, up to a maximum of £432.

Today Southern Electric matched that offer, adding that anyone who experienced a power outage on Christmas Day qualified for the £75 payout, no matter how long it lasted.






The comments below have not been moderated.

DM you have got it wrong again!! UKPN are already proactively writing to all the customers who were off supply for 48+ hours and they will receive the letters by Saturday allowing for Xmas/New Year post delays. This is NOT compensation as the power companies are not responsible for the weather so cannot be blamed. It is a regulation guaranteed standards failure which they are paying out for, and they have enhanced this as a good will gesture.

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There is more fines to come , due to there billing system and under estimations afterthe percentage increases.

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Distribution has nothing to do with bills, that is all down to the suppliers.

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I don't understand why people would be compensated for this. A discount on their bill to reflect not having/being able to use the service for a period of time, but not free money. Problems happen.

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Any of the directors had to repay their millions of pounds of bonuses thought not its just so easy for them to increase the energy charges for others to pay the compensation isnt it ... remember they are Tory snorter sponsored and they will rob the poor to pay the poor!

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Get used to power outages as all our politicians are signed up to saving 'Carbon Emissions' and closing down our power stations before any effective replacements are available

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Now watch the bills go up. Compensation must be had though no matter how it affects others, because my needs are greater than yours. Stump up taxpaers and customers. You know I am worth it. Welcome to modern day humanity,

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Distribution has nothing to do with billing, that is the suppliers.

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compensation was an option to make Dave look good

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No, it is a rule set out by the regulator OfGem

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Anyone else feel this is setting a potentially calamitous precedent for energy companies? with the very highly likelyhood of ever increasing floods in this country it could bankrupt them! (before everyone goes arrhhhh what a shame) think about the implications for massively rising bills as a consequence...,looks like Cameron intervened after he got some stick at xmas and ordered compensation for the disgruntled,but did he not forsee it could almost bankrupt them if a prolonged period of flooding occured nationwide

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Cameron "ordered" compensation? He doesn't have the authority.

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Lights go out down south, compensation paid. Don't remember getting compensation when the lights went out up north. All in it together or divided Britain.

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All distribution networks are governed by the same OfGem regulations, so if you have been off for over 18 continuous hours you will receive a payment. In dire storm conditions this is 48 continuous hours.

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Up go the Bills then.

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