Energy firms face bigger storms bill

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Ofgem has ordered energy companies SSE and UK Power Networks (UKPN) to pay an additional £3.3m after a probe into how they handled last winter’s storms.

The firms have already paid out £4.7m and committed to improvements following the severe weather last Christmas in the south of England. It brings the total to £8m.

Ofgem said it was more than doubling the minimum payments to those affected by severe weather incidents in the future and has warned the industry that it must learn the lessons of last winter.

It said it found that while SSE and UKPN’s Southern arms were badly hit by the storms “they could have done more to get customers reconnected faster and to keep them better updated on what was happening”.

Severe weather over Christmas 2013 saw power cuts affect nearly a million homes. Ofgem said SSE and UKPN’s power networks bore the brunt of it.

Between them they restored power to more than 95 per cent of customers within 48 hours. But almost 16,000 remained affected for more than 48 hours.

Ofgem said the two firms had agreed to make donations totalling £3.3m to organisations such as the Red Cross that play a key role helping vulnerable customers during severe weather.