Council leader attacks ‘disgraceful’ Ofgem ruling

A council leader has condemned Ofgem as 'disgraceful' after it ruled residents left without power for up to four days didn't deserve compensation.

The power cuts were caused by a fire at a cable bridge, and left 94,000 people homes without power in July 2009

Bexley’s Council leader Teresa O’Neill spoke out after Ofgem’s said EDF did not need to offer full compensation to residents and businesses who suffered during power cut that affected the borough and neighbouring Dartford.

Ofgem has ruled the loss of power in south east London and Kent, which lasted for several days was an ‘exceptional event beyond the control of EDF,’ and as such ruled against imposing any penalty or fine.

“I know many local people will be disappointed both with Ofgem’s ruling and the length of time it has taken to reach its decision,” said Mrs O’Neill.

“We made a strong argument that EDF was at least partly responsible for failing to secure the supply network and I know how much some residents and business people lost as a result of being without power.”

EDF met with Mrs O’Neill last this week and agreed to share a further £700,000 among more than 11,000 customers who were worst affected by the power cut.

A spokesman for EDF said: “Ofgem recognised that we successfully managed the incident, limited the number of customers affected and restored supplies as quickly and efficiently as possible in very extreme circumstances.

“We will also set up a community fund to give £750,000 to local causes to benefit residents and will work closely with Dartford and Bexley councils to agree the best way of doing this.

“Since the incident we have carried out a full security review of this and similar sites to ensure that we achieve best practice in this area going forward.”

A spokeswoman for Ofgem said: “The extent of the incident caused significant local concern which Ofgem shares.

“Ofgem welcomes the fact that EDF Energy Networks has responded to these concerns by making further payments in line with the regulatory requirements.

“The company took appropriate steps following the event to limit the number of customers that had their supplies interrupted, and to restore supplies quickly and efficiently.

“However, the incident has highlighted aspects of EDF Energy Networks’ performance which appear to fall short of best practice.

“Ofgem will be reviewing the regulatory framework to ensure companies have an incentive to keep under review the measures they are taking to protect the integrity of critical parts of their network.”

Luke Walsh

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