The electricity network in Great Britain is one of the most reliable in the world and for most of our customers, it’s very rare they’ll experience a power cut. However, the risk of a power cut increases significantly when the weather is bad.
Typically, high winds can cause damage to our overhead network, as can extremely low temperatures or snow. Heavy rain can cause flooding, which may also impact our underground network. Although we invest millions every year into the resilience of our electricity network, power cuts do sometimes happen – but our teams are on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help.
In the majority of circumstances, power cuts do not last for a long time, because our teams are typically on the move within minutes of our customers reporting a problem. If the weather is bad or the fault is complex to repair, we can’t always restore power as quickly as we’d like. We manage each fault on a case-by-case basis and depending on the situation, we’ll sometimes offer additional support to help you if the power is going to be off for a long time.
Welfare Units and Reimbursement of Costs
We have dedicated teams who support our customers during power cuts and if there is a particularly high volume of customers who are in a vulnerable situation, or the power cut is prolonged, we’ll dispatch welfare units to the area.
We have different types of welfare units available, some of these are specialist vehicles set up to provide immediate relief such as hot water, and glow sticks which are run by SSEN’s own community teams. They will often knock on the doors of customers to check they’re ok too.
We also have hot food provisions so will sometimes arrange for a food truck to be parked in a central location where we will provide hot food and drink to anyone affected by a power cut – these are commonly used during extreme weather events. If we arrange a welfare unit, we’ll make sure we update you as to where it is and how you can access the support.
Sometimes a welfare unit isn’t possible, this could be due to an inaccessible location or simply the volume of faults we have is higher than the availability of units. In this case, we may offer reimbursement of costs for food and drink for you and your household. If you’re eligible for this, we’ll tell you as soon as possible and advise how to claim this back.
Most customers choose to stay at home during a power cut, but for some people, staying at home during a prolonged power outage is difficult, and they may wish to seek alternative accommodation.
In most cases, a power cut does not last long enough for us to need to advise on seeking alternative accommodation, but in very significant circumstances, where we believe it will take several days to restore your power, we may advise you to seek alternative accommodation.
We will always provide you with our most reasonable and realistic expectation of the length of time, so you can plan for this, and in exceptional circumstances, we will also offer to cover reasonable costs associated. If this happens, we promise to let you know and advise on how you can reclaim these costs.
Compensation for loss of power is governed by industry-wide Guaranteed Standards of Performance, set by our regulator, Ofgem.
Ofgem sets clear guidelines for compensation if customers do not receive the service of network supply they expect. The guidelines consider the conditions in which our engineers are working to restore power to households and businesses.
For example, if your electricity supply fails because of a problem in our network during normal weather conditions, we must restore it within 12 hours of first becoming aware of the problem.
In extreme weather events or circumstances, different standards apply:
You are eligible for compensation under Guaranteed Standards if you have been without power for a prolonged period of time. You can claim £80 (for domestic and non-domestic customers) if the power was off for 24 hours (Storm Category 1) or 48 hours (Storm Category 2). The maximum payment you will receive is £2,000.
Customers do not need to contact us to request compensation. We will automatically issue this by cheque to the address that was impacted by the storms based on the data we hold. We will send a letter to addresses where we believe this information is not correct.
For more information, please click here.
Priority Services – Supporting Vulnerable Customers
We all rely on electricity day to day for various things, but for some, a power cut can be worrying or difficult. That’s why we offer extra help and support during a power cut. Registering for our Priority Services helps us to help you when you need it most. All our priority services are free.
You can find out more about Priority Services here.
Frequently asked questions
We do have generators which are used to restore power temporarily whilst we repair a fault on our network. We’re not always able to offer this – it may be that the fault makes it unsafe for us to do so or there are no generators available. You should not rely on your DNO to provide a generator, but if we can accommodate, we will try our best to do so. Please note, however, that we will usually reserve these for our most vulnerable customers who may be at medical risk or harm without power.
Our Priority Services Team is on hand and trained to support you the best they can. They will explore options to make things easier for you, however, they are unable to provide medical advice. If you need help or advice relating to a medical condition, please call 111.
We will always advise you when we’re offering to do this. At the same time, we will provide you with information on how to make a claim.
No, compensation is issued automatically if you’re eligible. Click here for more information on compensation.
This is not typically a cost we would cover, however, there are special circumstances where we may consider it, especially if we’ve offered accommodation to customers but you need to stay at home for a medical need. Please discuss this with us when you speak to us and we’ll advise if this is something we can do.