New £6m investment to help region’s power network prepare for winter
Power network provider Electricity North West is investing more than £6m in the region’s infrastructure to increase its resilience during the winter months.
Engineers with the Stockport-based organisation will focus on areas which are often worst affected by extreme weather across the region, from Cumbria to Cheshire, with tens of thousands of customers set to benefit.
The investment will help make the overhead and underground power network more resilient and make it quicker to restore power if damage occurs.
Investments are also being made in pruning trees close to overhead lines and improving flood defences.
Stephanie Trubshaw, Electricity North West customer director, said: “Our winter preparation and investment focuses on four key areas: Preventing power cuts from happening through resilience; improving automatic restoration within three minutes; enabling us to restore power remotely from our control room; and helping our teams to make repairs on site as quickly and safely as possible.
“The last storm season provided unprecedented challenges for our teams and customers, causing significant damage to the network, which impacted both repair and restoration times.
“During Storm Arwen, our automatic systems restored 18,000 properties within three minutes, and our engineers restored more than 90% of properties within 48 hours, but we will keep investing to minimise the impact of storms as much as possible.
“The investment will also provide us more information about when and where equipment is damaged so that we can give more accurate updates to customers affected.”
As part of its preparations for winter, Electricity North West is also delivering information leaflets through the doors of all its customers, sharing advice on how to get ready for winter and what to do in the event of a power cut, including calling the free power cut helpline – 105.
That includes signing up for the Extra Care Register, the free service which is designed to support people who may need a little extra help during a power cut.
Everyone on the register will have their calls prioritised and connected to a dedicated customer service team member, receive advance warnings of bad weather that may cause power cuts and, if a power cut lasts for a longer period of time, the service will stay in touch and when needed offer additional support such as food and drink, or alternative accommodation.
Sign up for the Extra Care Register by calling 0800 195 4141, or visiting enwl.co.uk/extracare.
The news comes after Electricity North West stated that its portion of electricity bills, which funds maintenance and upgrades to the region’s power network, will fall by at least 5.5% from 2023, despite increasing investment in the network by 33% to £1.8bn over a five-year period.
Stephanie added: “We appreciate that this is a worrying time for bill payers, with energy prices forecast to keep rising in the coming months, and we are committed to reducing our part of the annual energy bill, while maintaining the highest standards of service.
“We’re building a network that’s fit for the future as the region moves towards net zero, delivering reliable energy for communities and businesses across the North West, and our winter preparation is part of how we do that.”