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Friday, January 21, 2022

Storm Arwen power cuts: Energy minister confronted

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The energy minister was confronted by an angry resident over the Storm Arwen power cuts when he visited an area left without electricity since Friday.

On a visit to St John’s Chapel in Weardale, where 3,000 households are without power, Greg Hands was confronted.

Residents, according to publican Terr Wood, felt abandoned, and he told Mr Hands to “kick ass” with councils and the government.

Northern Powergrid reported that 15,000 homes and 6,000 Electricity North West customers were still without power.

Earlier in the House of Commons Durham’s Labour MP Mary Kelly Foy said it was a “national scandal” people were facing “a full seven days without heating or electricity”.

Thousands of people without power have been left feeling “forgotten,” according to Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

“What I expect from my government is for it to say ‘where did it go wrong and how do we know it went wrong?'” said Mr Wood, owner of the Blue Bell Inn pub.

Storm Arwen felled trees such as this one at Wray Castle in the Lake District

He also stated that he did not believe Durham County Council had done enough to assist people affected by power outages.

He addressed Mr Hands as follows: “The role of the local authorities is yours. You have far more influence over them than we will ever have.

“What are they up to? Nothing – we’ve been at it for five days.”

Mr Hands responded that engineers were working tirelessly to restore power, with many working 16-hour shifts.

However, Mr. Wood stated: “That is not what I want to hear from you.

“You’re an MP, and I’d like to hear from you that you’re going back and, to put it bluntly, kick ass.”

‘Absolutely crucial’

Mr Hands added: “We have restored power to 97% of customers.

“It’s critical that we restore the rest, which is why we’ve brought in extra people to assist Northern Powergrid in getting the power back up and running.” Around here, about 3,000 people are still without power, and Northern Powergrid hopes to reduce that number to a few hundred by the end of today.

“Everyone is working tirelessly to ensure that people’s power is restored.”

Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth, an independent, also criticised the government.

Drone footage of trees flatten in Kielder Northumberland by Storm Arwen

“The government hasn’t actually helped,” he said.

“The county council and the fire and rescue service, as well as coordination with Northern Powergrid, have all aided.”

Energy regulator Ofgem said it would examine the speed of energy companies’ responses and the resilience of the UK power network in extreme weather.

Sarah Langan, owner of the Chatterbox café in St John’s Chapel, said: “We need people who are actually going to do something – not people walking round the village, having a chat and then moving on.”

Residents Janice and George Oldham have been visiting the Northern Powergrid van, where staff have been distributing hot food and drinks.

Janice and George Oldham have been visiting the Northern Powergrid van to get hot food and drinks

“We ran out of candles, and our gas canister went out,” Mr Oldham explained.

“We’ve been cooking on an open log fire with a frying pan and boiling water in a pan on the fire.” It worked; we aren’t dead, and we haven’t gone hungry.”

The damage was described as “unprecedented” by Northern Powergrid.

Electricity North West stated that it had reconnected over 101,000 properties, but that as repairs were being made, more faults were discovered.

However, the company stated that all customers would be reconnected by Friday.

Damage has been caused to power equipment across the north of England and Scotland

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has urged powerless customers to make alternative lodging arrangements, such as staying with friends or family, whenever possible.

Jessica May Teasdale, 35, who has been without power in Stanley, County Durham, since Friday, called it a “nightmare” and said the government had “abandoned” her region.

Weather conditions have made repairs difficult

“It’s a nightmare,” she said. We’re inconsolable and terrified; will we become even more ill, to the point of pneumonia?

“I was in tears this morning, wondering if it would ever end.”

“Our health is deteriorating every day because we are constantly exposed to the elements.”

Earlier in Parliament, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said it was the worst outage since 2005 and reassured people who were “exhausted, worried, or angry” that everyone was working “incredibly hard” to restore power.

Northern Powergrid said damage to power lines was even more extensive than originally thought

“Supporting and reconnecting customers is our absolute priority,” an ENA spokesperson said. “Our customer teams are working around the clock to contact customers and keep them informed.”

Customers would be eligible for compensation, according to Northern Powergrid.

A payment of £70 per household had been set aside for the first 24 hours of power outage, or 48 hours if conditions were severe, as well as £70 for each additional 12-hour period without power.

However, payouts are capped at £700.

SourceBBC
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