Office of Gas and Electricity Market (Ofgem) has announced that, following
an investigation into to power cuts of 9 August 2019, a number of companies
have agreed to pay a combined £10.5 million to its consumer redress fund.
The power cut left over 1.1 million consumers without electricity and caused
major disruptions to part of the rail network, leaving passengers stranded.
Following its investigation, Ofgem attributed the power cut to the combined
loss of two large generators, as well as the smaller loss of generation
at a local level.
Prior to the blackout, a lightning strike occurred on a transmission circuit
(the Eaton Socon – Wymondley Main) at 4.52pm. The protection systems operated
and cleared the lightning in under 0.1 seconds. The line then returned
to normal operation after approximately 20 seconds.
However, immediately following the lightning strike, the Hornsea
offshore wind farm (operated by Hornsea One Ltd) reduced its energy supply
to the grid by 737 MW and the Little Barford power station (operated by
RWE) tripped, reducing its energy supply to the grid by 244 MW. Following
Ofgem's investigation, Hornsea One Ltd and RWE have agreed to pay out £4.5
million for not remaining connected after the lightning strike.
Ofgem also noted that local network operators disconnected and reconnected
consumers in response to the loss of power as expected. However, UK Power
Networks began reconnecting customers without being asked to by the Electricity
System Operator (ESO), which could have potentially jeopardised recovery
of the system. This has no impact on 9 August and UK Power Networks has
recognised it as a technical breach, taken swift action to prevent any
future reoccurrence, and agreed to pay £1.5 million into Ofgem’s voluntary
Moreover, Ofgem identified issues surrounding the ESO's management of the
system. It is conducting a review into the structure and governance of
the ESO, and the concerns raised in this investigation will inform this
work. Ofgem will consider a number of options for how the system operator
is structured, governed and managed, and work closely with BEIS ahead of
its position paper on system governance in 2020.
Jonathan Brearley, Executive Director, said: “Consumers and businesses
rely on generators and network companies to provide a secure and stable
power supply. August 9th showed how much disruption and distress is caused
to consumers across the UK when this does not happen. That is why it is
right that companies that were unable to keep generating have paid into
our consumer redress fund.
“Our investigation has raised important questions about National Grid’s
Electricity System Operator, which is why our review will look at the structure
and governance of the company."
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