Power Bosses Questioned Over Storm Response
The bosses of some of the country's leading power distribution companies are being questioned about their response to the Christmas storms by a panel of MPs.
The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee is holding a one-off evidence session on the companies' response to the severe weather.
Hurricane-force winds and torrential rain led to hundreds of thousands of power cuts during the Christmas period.
Retired insurance executive Neil Bailey was one of those left without electricity for five days.
His home in Horsham ,Surrey, was without power from December 23 until December 28.
A large ash tree in an adjoining field was toppled by the gale force winds that tore through southern England bringing down an electricity pole.
The supply to the severed cable was cut off by engineers sent to inspect the damage due to safety fears.
Friends helped the Baileys cook a Christmas turkey, but the family were forced to take a room in a local hotel for warm showers.
"Fortunately we've got some very good friends who helped us through from the time when the power was taken out on Christmas Eve through to Christmas Day," Mr Bailey said.
"I had my turkey cooked in a local village and another friend lent me their house to cook the vegetables and the potatoes.
"We were driving up down the dual carriage way to make Christmas dinner.
"The house was very cold and dark. There was no light from 4pm to 8am. It's not very pleasant."
The extreme weather stretched resources and resolve to the limit.
The response to the emergency by the power companies has been criticised heavily.
Mr Bailey has already been asking questions.
A letter from Basil Scarsella, CEO at UK Power Networks, one of the executives called to appear today, apologised for the outages and explained why power had not been restored to his home earlier.
"The recent storms have been the worst weather we have experienced for several years," the letter read.
"The high wind speeds and torrential rain caused widespread damage to our network and caused a large number of power cuts through the South East of England.
"Due to the unprecedented amount of damage caused, all of our engineers were working throughout the Christmas period to try to restore the supplies as quickly as possible with a priority given to dangerous situations."
Mr Bailey wants to see the panel of MPs demand greater accountability from the power supply companies.
"When you have a company in a virtual monopoly position there has to be some regulation to ensure that the service they are providing is being delivered," he said.
"Some kind of audit needs to take place to check that the plans they have for an emergency or contingency times are checked."
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