Storm Arwen: 9,000 homes still without power as energy companies face action over response

4 December 2021, 14:18 | Updated: 4 December 2021, 14:24

Thousands of homes are still without power a week on.
Thousands of homes are still without power a week on. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Thousands of people are still surviving without power eight days after Storm Arwen hit, with energy network operators facing enforcement action over not restoring power quickly enough.

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The military has been drafted in to help the 9,200 homes which were still without power on Friday evening, according to figures from industry body Energy Networks Association (ENA).

The Ministry of Defence said it has sent 297 personnel from the British Army and Royal Marines, who are conducting door-to-door checks on vulnerable people in their homes and providing reassurance to local communities.

The long delays have prompted energy regulator Ofgem to warn it will take enforcement action against network companies which failed to restore power to customers quickly enough following the storm.

It has also agreed with firms to lift the £700 cap on compensation which could be given to customers.

The change will allow those affected to claim £70 for each 12-hour period they are left without power, after an initial £70 for the first 48 hours.

Read more: ‘Lack of power’ blamed for person's death as Storm Arwen power cuts enter sixth day

Residents across the north-east of England and Scotland have been worst affected, with thousands still without electricity.

They've seen their homes plunged into darkness and unable to fight the cold snap, with whole communities cut off after fallen trees blocked roads.

And now residents are bracing for almost freezing temperatures, with parts of northern England and Scotland expected to see lows of 1C along with sleet and rain over the next 24 hours.

Affected areas are unlikely to see temperatures rise above 7C.

There has been uproar from residents in the north-east and Scotland over the "lack" of action, with some claiming it is "unacceptable".

Read more: Thousands without power from Storm Arwen eligible for £140 a day compensation

Councillor Steve Bridgett, speaking in Rothbury, said his residents feel "forgotten about" by the government.

He said "any help would be appreciated" and said he thinks a major incident should have been declared sooner.

Rebecca, who did not wish to give her last name, told LBC: "Let's put it this way - if Boris is sat in Downing Street and he was freezing with no hot water, electricity, wifi, phone signal, I don't think it would have taken this long to have the business secretary make a statement on it. It would have been the next thing on the agenda.

"They talk all about levelling up and this is a pure example of where levelling up is so essential to the north."

Read more: Man dies after tree falls on car as Storm Arwen brings snow and high winds to UK

Rebecca said power lines had fallen onto her family's home, near Windermere in Cumbria, during the storm.

She has stayed at a friend's house in the West Midlands, where she works, while her relatives had to move out because of the power loss.

Trees have been strewn on the roads there, making travel difficult, while others remain without energy.

Rebecca said: "If London lost power and heating in the middle of winter for five days, something would've been done a lot sooner."

Read more: UK weather: Ice warnings issued and more snow set to hit in wake of Storm Arwen

Which energy networks are still affected?

Supplier Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said 950 properties were without power as of 10pm on Friday.

Northern Powergrid announced 5,100 customers, of 240,000 who lost power, are yet to be connected.

Western Power Distribution still had 254 without power while Electricity North West, which provides energy for an area between the Scottish border and Stockport, said 350 customers were without power as of 12.50pm on Saturday.

Meanwhile, SP Energy Networks said it had restored power to all 200,000 customers who were disconnected.