As freezing temperatures continue to hit Britain this week, the industry body for energy networks has said the chances of unplanned problems with electricity and gas supply are “unlikely” in adverse weather conditions.
Since 1990, network companies have invested £80 billion in improving the reliability of local energy networks in the UK, according to the Energy Networks Association (ENA).
David Smith, the ENA’s chief executive, said: “On average, electricity customers have a power cut just once every two years and gas customers will have their gas supply interrupted just once every 40 years.
“However, as the nights get colder and darker, the chances of severe weather increase. Storms, floods and other extreme conditions can sometimes cause damage to the electricity network and disrupt the energy supply.”
He added: “That’s why we are calling on the public to ‘Be Winter Ready’ and make sure they are prepared in case they have a power cut or gas emergency.”
According to Ofgem’s guaranteed standards for severe weather, distribution companies have 24 hours to restore electricity supply if it fails due to a storm causing between eight and 13 times the daily average number of faults in a 24 hour period.
If companies do not meet the standard, both non-domestic and domestic customers can claim £70. A further £70 will be paid for each additional period of 12 hours in which supply is not restored (up to a cap of £700 in total).
But energy companies are benefiting from advance weather forecasts of up to six months ahead, according to private weather organisation MeteoGroup.
The company, which helps support sectors such as energy, water, telecoms and public authorities, has forecasting offices in 17 countries and customers worldwide.
Paul Knightley, group lead forecasting for the UK at MeteoGroup, said: “For clients in the energy category our forecasts allow them to assess how the weather will affect demand and pricing. Big cold spells, unsurprisingly, push demand up a lot, and by having an early heads-up that such a spell is possible, clients can react accordingly.”
The ENA has issued guidelines in emergency adverse weather conditions for consumers, including signposting that vulnerable households can get extra support by signing up to the Priority Services Register.