Improved fault-handling figures by Scottish network operators “mask pockets of poor performance” and customers have no guaranteed compensation in some areas where performance was “unacceptable”, according to the Scottish Affairs select committee in a report on how Scottish grid companies responded during recent winters.

The cross-party group of MPs called on Ofgem to extend compensation schemes to areas such as Scottish isles where they currently do not apply. It also recommended developing more detailed regional monitoring of faults and blackouts.

The MPs looked specifically at the Scottish networks’ performance during recent winter storms and found that poor communication between utility and customers was made worse because many channels, such as websites, depended on an electricity supply.

On islands and in rural areas the companies’ shops had been key in distributing hot meals and practical support as well as information. However, there was no formal link or database to allow them to become a regular part of companies’ emergency response.

The MPs also said utilities’ fear of data protection laws meant the priority service register depended on voluntary notification from customers and asked for more data sharing with emergency services.

· The committee said new renewables projects should be connected in a way that would strengthen the grid. It asked Ofgem to promote co-ordination between transmission and distribution firms.

This article first appeared in Utility Week’s print edition of 31
August 2012.

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