As a provider of critical national infrastructure, Northern Powergrid is reassuring its customers that it will continue to be there for them throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The company said that its first priority will always be response to power cuts and urgent safety issues. It confirmed that it will continue to respond as a priority to any unplanned power cuts or electrical emergency calls through its 24/7 operations whilst taking all the necessary safety precautions to ensure that its employees and customers are safe.
Work needed to maintain network resilience and respond to urgent customer requests will also continue wherever possible. However the company said that it will look to postpone work that requires a planned power cut if deferring the work doesn’t impact network resilience in the near term. It will also put back plans for any non-urgent projects where the process of carrying out the work itself steps up the risk to customer supplies whilst it is carried out.
Patrick Erwin, Northern Powergrid’s Policy and Markets Director, said: “As the operator of a piece of critical national infrastructure, we will continue to keep the lights on, maintain network resilience and deliver for our customers during this challenging time. As far as possible we are looking to maintain levels of service, but where work could be disruptive or entail temporarily reducing the resilience of the network, we will look to defer it where we can.”
Patrick went on to say: “During this period, essential or emergency work to increase the resilience of the network that involves planned power cuts will be managed especially carefully with the needs of our customers, particularly the most vulnerable, at the forefront of our minds. In situations where work must take place, we will ensure that the number of customers affected is kept to the absolute minimum and that they are fully informed and supported.”
Geoff Earl, Northern Powergrid’s Director of Safety, Health and Environment, said: “Safety and network resilience are our top priority – and we want to ensure that we continue to meet these requirements in a way that minimises any further disruption to our customers' lives in these unprecedented times.”
Geoff went on to say: “Like everyone else, we’ve had to quickly adapt in our offices, vehicles and work settings by introducing social distancing practises. This means that those who can do their jobs from home are now doing so and in consequence, office occupancy is significantly reduced to create much more space around colleagues. Vehicle occupancy is restricted to the driver only wherever possible and our engineers on site observe two metre distancing from co-workers.
“All of our work will be carried out in line with the latest COVID-19 health and safety practices to protect our colleagues, customers and the communities we are powering.”
Patrick added: “We understand that these are challenging times for everyone; however by taking this approach we hope that our customers are assured of our commitment to keeping their power flowing in a safe and responsible way now and in the weeks and months ahead.”
Coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly developing situation, Northern Powergrid will continue to actively monitor and review its approach to new connections and planned work. It is likely that the electricity network operator will need to adapt its approach over the coming week and months. This will include responding to any potential changes in access permissions or emergency powers implemented nationally.
Customers can continue to contact Northern Powergrid 24/7 on social media (Facebook and Twitter @NorthPowergrid) or by calling 105. Its website - northernpowergrid.com – offers online support to customers who need to report a power cut or get updates about what’s happening to restore their supplies. Customers who may need extra support in a power cut due to their medical or personal circumstances can join Northern Powergrid’s free Priority Services Register by visiting https://www.northernpowergrid.com/care or calling 0800 169 2996.