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  • Keeping your power flowing and supporting the COVID-19 response

    A message from our Managing Director, Colin Nicol

  • As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have an impact on all aspects of life, we know you and your communities are relying on us, now more than ever, to keep the power flowing to your homes and businesses.

    At SSEN we’re working hard to ensure this commitment is fully met and we’re playing our part in society’s response to the crisis.

    Our frontline operational teams, designated as critical workers, continue to work tirelessly to support the safe and reliable supply of electricity at local, regional and national level, helping to provide the power on which the coronavirus response depends.

    Our core support teams, working from home where possible, are providing 24/7 service and support to our customers, especially the most vulnerable, making best use of our stakeholder network to look at ways we can lend a helping hand in the communities we serve.

    Together, we have made a great deal of progress, including:


    - Prioritisation of operational activities to focus on critical work that ensures a safe, reliable and resilient supply of electricity to our customers.
    - Postponement of all non-emergency work that requires access to customer homes.
    - Acceleration of connection works and associated network studies to support the NHS and healthcare response, such as temporary hospitals and research centres.
    - Introduction of dedicated support for our customers in vulnerable situations, including outbound calling those identified as most at risk on our priority register, signposting local support services.
    - Prioritisation of hospitals, health centres and care homes, including the introduction of a dedicated phone line and exploring options for further cross-industry collaboration to support this critical group.
    - Temporary expansion of our Priority Services Register criteria to include those at increased risk who have been instructed to self-isolate for a 12-week period based on public health guidance.

    We know, however, there will be more to do and we continue to work closely with Government, Ofgem, our union partners and other network operators to adapt to any changes to guidance and adopt best practice to protect and support our customers, colleagues and communities.   

    Although we have reduced our operational activity, you will still see our teams and key contract partners working in your street or in your area.  As critical workers, designated by government, they will be undertaking critical work on the electricity network and will be following strict guidance and procedures, including social distancing rules, wherever operationally possible.

    We also remain focused on workforce resilience.  Despite what you may have read in recent media headlines, our networks are operating as normal during the pandemic and our well-practiced business continuity plans are in place and working well.  This includes segmentation of key teams across multiple locations and the introduction of reserve crews. I’d like to reassure you the UK has one the most reliable networks in the world and, as an industry, we are working together to keep the power flowing.

    Supporting the community response

    Our principal duty will always be to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity, but we also recognise, as a responsible business, we have an additional duty to support the community response during this unprecedented crisis.  This includes:

    - Signing up to the C-19 Business Pledge, joining the business community to support the UK through the coronavirus pandemic and the recovery efforts.
    - Providing key support to local initiatives through our network of customer and community teams and extending existing partnerships with Citizens Advice Scotland and Citizens Advice Hampshire to include additional financial support for delivering crucial energy advice services remotely.
    - Release of a £350,000 Resilient Communities Fund, which offered grants of up to £3,000 for local projects supporting the community response to the coronavirus pandemic and protecting those most vulnerable.

    Please get in touch via stakeholder.engagement@sse.com if you would like more details of the support we can provide in your area.


    A thank you to our customers and teams

    We know these are uncertain times and I’d like to thank all our customers for their patience and support and express my gratitude to our front-line teams.  I couldn’t be prouder of my colleagues who are out in the field and in our sites and depots and would like to thank them for the hard work and dedication they continue to show and the unfailing support they are providing our customers. 

    As the impact of the virus continues to be felt, we recognise that the resilience of electricity supplies is unlikely to the be at forefront of most people’s minds.   It’s our job to make sure that it never has to be, as we continue to keep your power flowing, safely and reliably, helping our nation respond to this significant challenge.   

    You can read more about our response in the FAQ below.

    Thank you and stay safe, 

    Signature of our Managing Director, Colin Nicol

    Colin Nicol

    Managing Director, SSEN

  • Frequently asked questions:

    I’ve read in the papers there are likely to be more power cuts during the coronavirus pandemic due to reduced staff numbers. Is this true?


    The UK has one of the most reliable electricity networks in the world. We invest millions of pounds each year in reinforcement and automation to support resilience and ensure continued reliability. 


    Recent media reports warning of blackouts are without substance.  The story resulted from a network operator sending a standard communication to its priority customers, giving tips on what to do in a power cut, which was taken out of context and misreported.  There are no warnings in place and our networks are operating as normal.


    As will be common to any organisation, we expect to see a degree of impact from the coronavirus outbreak in terms of availability of operational teams through self-isolation and other precautions, but our well-established business continuity plans are designed so that our core responsibility to provide safe, reliable electricity supplies is maintained and our customers experience as little disruption as possible.

      
    We’ve implemented robust measures to protect our colleagues and core operations, including operational depots, control rooms and contact centres. This includes steps to segregate our frontline operational teams, including modifying working protocols and splitting the physical location colleagues work in to ensure we can maintain operations in even the most extreme scenarios. We’ve also modified shift patterns and taken steps to train and secure additional resource from other internal teams and our key contract partners.


    By deprioritising some work, we are adding to the availability of teams to support fault response, and on the rare occasion a fault occurs on our network, please be assured our engineers will continue to respond, safely restoring your power as quickly as possible.


    What work are you prioritising?

    The Government has identified the work we do to keep power flowing to our communities as critical, with our operational workforce now holding ‘critical worker’ status.


    We’re prioritising the delivery of work that is critical to ensure a safe and reliable supply of electricity to our customers.


    • Network faults involving the loss of electricity supplies to customers.
    • Emergency incidents that impact on the integrity of the electricity network, the safety of the general public or present a significant environmental risk.
    • Fault prevention work critical to avoid medium-term electricity supply issues.
    • Connections to critical national infrastructure sites such as hospitals, telecoms sites or any other location required to maintain essential public services.
    • Operation of the network control rooms and customer call handling, including support for customers in vulnerable circumstances.


    We will also continue to deliver work required for medium-term network resilience or priority connections. This will be undertaken on a case by case basis, following strict social distancing guidelines and other measures to protect our customers, communities and workforce.

    What work are you no longer carrying out?

    We are continually reviewing the priority of our work and postponing activity that is not critical to either fault response, the medium-term resilience of our network or non-emergency work where we require access to customer homes.

    This includes non-critical planned supply interruptions where we need to interrupt customer power supplies, non-priority connections, long-term refurbishment work and inspections and maintenance activities that are not safety-critical.

      
    Our position is under regular review based on the latest government and regulatory guidance.



    How will you ensure the safety of your frontline teams and the people they interact with?

    Our safety licence, “if it’s not safe, we don’t do it”, has never been more important as we continue to provide an essential service in challenging conditions, and we remain committed to protecting our workforce and our customers.
    We have introduced additional hygiene measures and have provided personal protective equipment (PPE) in line with government guidance.  A PPE reporting line has been established for our teams to raise any queries, which will be swiftly dealt with.


    We have also introduced new protocols to ensure our teams observe social distancing rules.  This includes the rollout of clear signage at our work sites to let the general public aware we are conducting critical work and to respect these measures.  A ‘one person, one vehicle’ rule has also been introduced, which must be strictly adhered to in all but emergency situations where no other option is viable.


    By limiting our visits to customer properties to only complete critical and emergency works, we remain committed to keeping our customers and colleagues safe and have implemented clear protocols when attending customer homes including a simple to follow instructional video.  Before our engineer arrives, we will ask if anyone is self-isolating or has been diagnosed with coronavirus in your property and additional steps will be taken, including social distancing. 


    As we continue to adapt to this changing environment, safety will remain at the very forefront of our minds and we will continue to explore options to ensure we are following government guidance and best practice in this area.  We also remain in close contact with our union partners on this issue and have issued a joint statement to our teams.

    How can I contact you? Are you providing the same service?

    We’re always here to help and remain committed to providing leading customer service during these unprecedented times.  All existing contact routes remain open:


    • Contact us on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or call our teams on 105. 
    • Download our Power Track app on the App Store and Google Play Store to report faults and keep updated on our engineers’ progress as they work to restore your power. 
    • To speak to someone from our dedicated priority services team, call 0800 294 3259 from a landline or mobile, or call from a text phone on 0800 316 5457
    In certain circumstances, we may take slightly longer to answer calls, but rest assured we’ll still be there for you when you need us.


    If you are able to do so, we’d encourage you to contact us through digital routes.  This will allow us to prioritise our phone lines for those who do not have access to digital options.

    What more are you doing to support vulnerable customers at this time?

    We recognise that as well as playing an integral role in keeping the power flowing, we also have a role to play in supporting our vulnerable customers through what will be a difficult situation.


    • SSEN offers tailored services and guidance to those who may need additional support through our Priority Services Register (PSR). The PSR is free to register for those that require extra help during a power cut.  
    • Customers are eligible for priority services if they: are deaf or hard of hearing; have a disability; live with children under five; are blind or partially sighted; have a chronic illness; use medical equipment/aids reliant on electricity; or, are over 60.
    • We have established a dedicated team to outbound call customers in our highest PSR priority category, and those in areas of high social isolation, as identified from our social mapping tool. These calls will be aimed at reassuring these customers and reminding them of our service.
    • We’ve introduced a temporary expansion of our Priority Services Register criteria to include those at increased risk who are instructed to self-isolate for a 12-week period based on public health guidance. This is to ensure those who may feel temporarily vulnerable during this period are supported.
    • During the current situation, we are promoting our PSR service widely through media, social media and advertising channels.
    • We are working closely with local agencies to make sure those who are vulnerable can be signposted to local support in their area, such as food delivery and befriending schemes, where required.



    What are you doing to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic?

    As a responsible business, we are committed to supporting the local response to the coronavirus crisis in the communities we serve.  As part of this:

    •We launched a £350,000 community resilience fund to provide extra help to members of the community who are self-isolating or social shielding during the coronavirus pandemic. Funding rounds are now closed and award announcements will be made shortly.
    • We have extended existing partnerships with Citizens Advice in the north of Scotland and Hampshire, to include additional financial support for delivering advice remotely.
    • We are providing key support to local initiatives through our network of Customer Relationship Managers and Customer and Community Advisors, including attendance at joint response meetings and close liaison with local authority emergency and resilience teams 
    • We are sharing our Priority Services Register information with key resilience agencies, where allowable through the Civil Contingencies Act and GDPR regulations.
    • We’ve signed up to the C-19 Business Pledge, joining the business community to support the UK through the coronavirus pandemic and the recovery efforts.

    We will continue to explore further options to support the community response in line with our core operational activity.




      What are you doing to protect primary healthcare sites and support frontline healthcare workers?

      As the country responds to the impact of coronavirus, the need to prioritise hospitals, health care facilities and care homes in our planning and operations has never been greater.

      • We are prioritising connections requests to critical national infrastructure sites such as temporary hospitals, or expansion of other healthcare services.
      • We are reviewing our network resilience plans based on the location of these facilities, ensuring the critical healthcare sites are recognised.
      • We are introducing a dedicated phone number for hospitals, health centres and care homes, to ensure optimisation of incident response and exploring options for further cross-industry support.
      • In power cut situations, we’ll prioritise mobile generation to health centres, care homes and other critical sites where backup generation facilities are not in place.


      We also recognise that a reliable source of power will be critical to the well-being of healthcare workers, paramedics and first responders and their families at this time and exploring options for further cross-industry collaboration to support this critical group.

      Will my planned supply interruption go ahead?

      Following the introduction of nationwide social distancing measures, we recognise that most people will now be at home, including those in vulnerable circumstances, and we are therefore adjusting the way we work.


      We have postponed non-essential planned supply interruptions affecting customers’ power supply and are looking at additional measures, including timing and duration, to reduce customer impact for planned interruptions for emergency essential connections or network resilience.




      Can I still apply for a connection?

      Yes, we are continuing to accept all applications for connections work. These applications will be quoted, designed and passed to the delivery teams if the quote is accepted.


      All accepted quotes will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine priority for delivery, prioritising connections to critical national infrastructure sites such as hospitals, telecoms sites or any other location required to maintain essential public services or support the coronavirus response.

      Can you extend my connection offer?

      We understand this is a time of uncertainty for many of our customers and you may not be in a position to accept a connection offer that you’ve received from us. We can re-validate your quotation, subject to criteria. Simply get in touch with us via email at Connections@SSEN.co.uk using the details on your quotation letter, and we’ll try our best to help. You need to make this request within the last two weeks of your quotation’s validity - we’ll send you a reminder email during this period.

      How are you working with the wider industry?

      We remain in close contact with the UK and Scottish governments, the energy regulator, Ofgem, and our industry partners and are committed to supporting efforts to limit and delay the spread of coronavirus, focusing on activity that safeguards the supply.


      Through the Energy Networks Association, we are reviewing industry best practice on a regular basis, looking to adopt solutions that are in the best interest of colleagues and customers and working on joint programmes to reassure the general public of the work we are doing to keep the nation’s energy flowing.

      More on the industry response can be found here: https://news.energynetworks.org/coronavirus

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