Three energy firms to pay £10.5m for August power cuts

Trains were at a standstill after power failed on 9 August. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Three energy companies will pay £10.5m to energy watchdog Ofgem’s redress fund over the power cuts last August which left over one million customers without power and caused chaos on roads and trains.

Regulator Ofgem has said that Hornsea One Ltd, an offshore wind farm co-owned by Ørsted, and Little Barford, a gas power station operated by RWE, will each make a voluntary payments of £4.5m into Ofgem’s redress fund.

Ofgem found that the two large power stations did not remain connected after a lightning strike on 9 August, causing power outages for much of the UK. The outage caused major disruption on road and rail networks during rush hour, leaving thousands stranded.

A third company, UK Power Networks, will also pay out £1.5m after a technical breach of rules as they began reconnecting customers without being asked to by the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO).

Ofgem said that although this had no impact on 9 August, it could have potentially jeopardised recovery of the system. UK Power Networks have recognised this technical breach and agreed to pay £1.5m into its voluntary redress fund.

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Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s executive director, said: “Consumers and businesses rely on generators and network companies to provide a secure and stable power supply.

“August 9 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.”

He also said that the investigation had raised questions about the structure and management of the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator and that Ofgem would be conducting a review.

National Grid ESO activated back-up power generators when the two power stations failed but when there was not enough back-up power generation available local network operators were forced to disconnect some consumers in order to prevent further system-wide disruption.

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All customers were reconnected by the Distribution Network Operators within 45 minutes of the lightning strike, Ofgem said.

The Office of Rail and Road, a separate regulator, also found that software flaws on some trains caused extended delays for commuters.