Energy bosses face delays grilling


Power restored to storm-hit homes

MPs are to question the bosses of the UK's energy network companies over the length of time it took to restore power to homes affected by storms over Christmas.

More than 150,000 homes were cut off after strong winds, torrential rain and flooding caused damage to power networks.

Many were left without electricity for up to five days, and company bosses will have to explain to MPs why it took so long to restore power, the Daily Telegraph said.

Tim Yeo, chairman of the Commons energy select committee, told the newspaper: "I'm very concerned about how long the network distribution companies took to restore power to thousands of customers. The committee will call them in when the House gets back.

"I'm already concerned that these distribution companies are not properly scrutinised by Ofgem, despite being effectively monopolies. Their performance over Christmas was unacceptable."

Mr Yeo told the newspaper the committee would probably consider the compensation on offer for those left without power, as well as network companies' contingency plans for bad weather and power cuts.

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, has admitted that it was not prepared for the storm and too many staff were on holiday.

The company, which owns electricity lines and cables in London, the South East and east of England, said it will increase payments for 48 to 60-hour outages from £27 to £75 for those affected on Christmas Day as "a gesture of goodwill".

Additional payments will be made to customers who have been without electricity for longer than that time - up to a maximum of £432.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said yesterday he has urged energy companies to stop staff taking new year holidays as a second week of storms looks set to derail the festive period.

He told the BBC: "Quite clearly some of the power companies let their customers down badly."