The National Grid has blamed a lightning strike for the huge power cut on August 9, as Ofgem is investigating the blackout.
The blackout earlier this month caused almost a million people in England and Wales to lose power and caused widespread travel disruption which lasted until the next day. The UK energy regulator Ofgem has since opened an investigation into National Grid and any other companies involved in the power cut, which could result in financial penalties.
According to Ofgem, the investigation is underway to “try to establish what lessons can be drawn from the power cut to ensure that steps can be taken to further improve the resilience of Britain’s energy network”.
Any potential fine could be up to 10% of the firm’s turnover if found guilty. They could also be ordered to give money to charities that help vulnerable customers or be forced to pay compensation to those who were affected by the power shortage.
The power cut – the biggest in the UK for over a decade – occurred just before 5pm on Friday 9 August and lasted until 5.40pm. Two major power stations – Hornsea and Little Barford – experienced power cuts almost at the same time, with both being blamed on lightning strikes.
Thousands of households across England and Wales lost power for a short time, but the rail disruption caused by the outage lasted until the weekend.
“The power cuts of Friday 9 August caused interruptions to consumers’ energy and significant disruption to commuters,” said Jonathan Brearley, executive director of systems and networks at Ofgem. “It’s important that the industry takes all possible steps to prevent this happening again.
“Having now received National Grid ESO’s interim report, we believe there are still areas where we need to use our statutory powers to investigate these outages. This will ensure the industry learns the relevant lessons and to clearly establish whether any firm breached their obligations to deliver secure power suppliers to consumers.”