UK power firm boosts compensation for Christmas blackouts

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 28, 2013 9:09 AM
UK power firm boosts compensation for Christmas blackouts

LONDON (Reuters) - One of Britain's biggest power distributors pledged on Saturday to almost triple compensation to households left without power over Christmas after the first of two fierce winter storms battered the country.

UK Power Networks, a distribution network owned by Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Group that covers London, the southeast and east of England, said it would almost triple its compensation to those affected by long-term power cuts.

About 4,000 households across Britain remained without power on Saturday with many without electricity since Christmas Eve when a storm packing winds of more than 100 mph caused flooding and travel chaos for thousands of people.

A second storm on December 27 exacerbated the situation, with gale force winds causing more havoc in the worst-hit areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex in southeast England, flooding more than 1,200 properties and hampering efforts to reconnect supplies.

A UK Power spokesman said more than 300,000 customers lost power after Tuesday's storm but most supplies were quickly restored. By Saturday about 1,000 properties still had no power.

The company said as a "gesture of goodwill" it would raise the industry standard payment to 75 pounds ($125) from 25 pounds for people without power for 48-60 hours and make additional payments to any customers without power for longer.

"This is such a difficult time of year for people to be without power and so many families have also been flooded out of their homes. Our hearts go out to our customers," said director of customer services Matt Rudling.

The Energy Networks Association (ENEA), which represents operators of power supply networks across Britain, said another 150,000 homes lost power after Thursday's storm with around 4,000 properties still without power on Saturday.

"It is hope that the majority of those still off will be back over the course of today," said an ENA spokesman.

Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday faced angry rebukes from householders impacted by flooding and power cuts during a visit to a badly-affected village in Kent.

Cameron said the severity of flooding in the area made it difficult to ensure homes were protected, but conceded that "we have got to do more and we have got to do better".

Britain's Environment Agency said there was still a risk of flooding in some areas with 88 flood alerts and 24 flood warnings still in force and more rain expected early next week.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by David Evans)