Companies to pay £10.5 million for August blackout

In: CorporateGridWindfarms
The 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 Project One 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 redress fund.

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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