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POWER CUT: Councils demand immediate publication of audit report
9:10am Sunday 4th April 2010 in News
COUNCIL leaders in Bexley and Dartford are demanding the immediate publication of a report into last summer’s power cut.
Councillors Teresa O’Neill and Jeremy Kite have reacted angrily to energy watchdog Ofgem’s decision to delay the report until May.
The EDF Energy power cut in July last year left thousands of people without power for up to four days, costing businesses and some residents thousands of pounds.
Ofgem commissioned an independent auditor to look at the circumstances which led to the incident and the report was orginally due to be published last November.
It was delayed until February, but at the beginning of this month Ofgem announced it would not now be published until May.
It said: “Given the nature of the incident and the fact that a significant number of customers were affected over a prolonged period, the report needs to be carefully reviewed and considered by Ofgem’s senior management before a decision can be made.”
But the two council leaders say that is not good enough.
Cllr O’Neill said: “Ofgem and EDF are accountable to the public and we think the report should be made public now.
“Our residents suffered inconvenience and, in some cases, real hardship as a result of the power cut and they deserve to be told what went wrong and what has been done to prevent it happening again.”
Cllr Kite added: “Now Ofgem is in possession of the report it has a duty to publish quickly and in full.
“The report contains facts and they don’t change however much you review or consider them.
“I am afraid local people are already hugely suspicious about the delay and Ofgem has a responsibility to the consumer, not the industry it is paid to regulate.”
Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett has also written to Ofgem saying: "I am very disappointed and concerned that, to date, the report into the circumstances surrounding the incident, which took place eight months ago, has not been published."
He added:"I believe EDF Energy failed in its duty to maintain power supplies and should be paying full compensation as outlined in the Guaranteed Standards."
An Ofgem spokeswoman said: "Given the importance of the issue for the customers affected, Ofgem’s senior management team needs to give the report its full consideration and follow due process.
"Ofgem intends to publish the final version of the examiner’s report and to consult on its “minded to” position regarding EDFE’s claim for an exemption under the interruptions incentive scheme."
THE power cut last summer was caused when intruders broke into an EDF Energy site in Dartford and started a fire which damaged four major power cables carried over Dartfford Creek on a bridge.
EDF claimed the incident had been “exceptional” allowing it to offer £50 compensation to anyone without power for 24 hours, instead of the standard compensation rate.
The audit looked at the cause of the power failure, and whether it qualified as an “exceptional” incident.It also looked at whether EDF Energy’s actions , or lack of them, were a contributory factor in what happened and whether EDF took appropriate steps to limit the number of customers affected and restored the electricity supply quickly and efficiently.
Those responsible were never caught and Kent police said their investigation was hampered by a lack of CCTV and the isolated location which meant there were no witnesses.
EDF had problems trying to restore power quickly to those who were affected, because it had no alternative power sources.
If the report finds EDF was partially to blame, it could cost the company millions of pounds under the industry’s Interruptions Incentives Scheme, and bring extra compensation for customers.