Ofgem launches investigation into power cuts that caused UK blackout on 9 August

Ofgem has launched an investigation into the power cuts of Friday 9 August that caused travel chaos across large parts of the country – and left thousands of homes in darkness.

It said an investigation will seek to establish what lessons can be drawn from the outage to ensure that steps can be taken to further improve the resilience of Britain’s energy network.

The regulator will also seek to establish whether any of the parties involved – National Grid ESO, National Grid Electricity Transmission, 12 distribution network operators in England and Wales and generators RWE Generation (Little Barford Power station) and Orsted (Hornsea) – breached their licence conditions.

It will review the current requirements to hold sufficient back-up power to manage the loss of generation supplies as well as how generators met their obligations on 9 August itself.

Generators have rules on how they should respond to these faults, the investigation will look at whether these were met.

An Ofgem spokesman added that the watchdog will be looking at whether the companies made the right decisions in disconnecting thousands of people – including the damage caused to rail passengers.

Jonathan Brearley, at Ofgem, said: “The power cuts of Friday 9 August caused interruptions to consumers’ energy and significant disruption to commuters. It’s important that the industry takes all possible steps to prevent this happening again.

“Having now received National Grid ESO’s interim report, we believe there are still areas where we need to use our statutory powers to investigate these outages. This will ensure the industry learns the relevant lessons and to clearly establish whether any firm breached their obligations to deliver secure power supplies to consumers.”

It said it will take enforcement action where suppliers failed to meet their obligations.  

Under the Electricity Act, this could be a penalty of up to of 10% of the regulated network's UK turnover.

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