Power bosses splash the cash to prepare for new storm season in North West

Electricity bosses have pledged to spend an extra £6.4m in the North West to avoid a repeat of last winter’s Storm Arwen disaster.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 13th June 2022, 3:45 pm

Electricity North West, which paid out more than £4m in compensation to consumers left without power for days, has announced it will spend even more to ramp up its preparations for the 2022 storm season.

The provider has added £5.2m to the £140m it normally spends on reliability and resilience every year.

And it has also said it will lay out a further £1.2m on systems to provide more accurate information on restoration times as a direct response to customer feedback following the worst storm to hit the region for 16 years.

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Storm Arwen wreaked havoc across the North of England.

“We know how difficult Storm Arwen was for so many people, and it provided challenges on a scale that we simply haven’t seen before which impacted both repair and restoration times,” said Stephanie Trubshaw, the company’s customer director.

“In some areas we had whole forests that fell on power lines, taking down up to 3km of overhead lines in places.

“As part of our review, we spoke with customers from Cumbria to Cheshire and the key things they wanted to see were quicker restoration times, but also more accurate information on restoration times.

“The investment we’re making, which is already underway, will not only help improve restoration times, but also provide us more information about when and where equipment is damaged so that we can give more accurate updates to customers affected.”

It took almost two weeks to reconnect everyone.

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Storm Arwen struck on November 25 killing three people and leaving 112,000 homes without power across the North of England, a further 80,000 in Scotland and 13,000 in Wales.

Although the severe weather moved on after two days, many homes and businesses were still without power a week later.

Large sections of overhead cables were brought down and it was December 7 before power was fully restored.

Electricity North West engineers are prepared for this winter's storm season.

Regarded as one of the worst storms the country has seen in more than 50 years, Storm Arwen brought snow, ice and wind speeds over 65mph for many hours which caused extensive damage to the electricity network, as well as causing access issues with snow drifts and hundreds of fallen trees.

As well as fast tracking further funding, Electricity North West is also creating a community resilience fund for those impacted by Storm Arwen, which it confirmed it would do last December when its review was first confirmed.

Stephanie Trubshaw added: “As part of our Storm Arwen review, rural communities told us to focus on support for those who struggled with access issues meaning we didn’t know they were without power.

“We were also told to focus on customers who needed to stay at their properties for animal welfare needs and also, people who don’t want to leave their homes.

“The community hubs which were set up that we supported during the incident were fantastic and provided crucial support for those without power for a prolonged period of time.

“The community fund will take lessons from those hubs and ultimately will provide support to help communities when they experience extreme weather conditions and are isolated from other support services.

“We’re working with several partners to help create the fund and we’ll release further information shortly.”