Three energy companies in the UK have agreed to pay fines totalling £10.5 million following a power cut in August that affected over 1 million people.
Energy regulator Ofgem says that RWE, Orsted and UK Power Networks have agreed to make voluntary payments into its redress fund in relation to their roles in the blackout, triggered in August 2019 when two generators went offline following a lightning strike.
Orsted and RWE will both pay £4.5 million into the redress fund, while UK Power Networks will pay £1.5 million.
Orsted’s Hornsea 1 offshore wind farm lost 800 MW of load following the lightning strike, and RWE’s 740 MW Little Barford power plant also stopped generating.
UK Power Networks was found to have started reconnecting customers without being asked to by the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), Ofgem said. While this did not materially impact the recovery process, UK Power Networks recognised the technical breach, Ofgem added.
Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s executive director, said: “Consumers and businesses rely on generators and network companies to provide a secure and stable power supply. August 9 showed how much disruption and distress is caused to consumers across the UK when this does not happen.
“That is why it is right that companies that were unable to keep generating have paid into our consumer redress fund.”
An Orsted spokesman said: “The power outage on 9 August was caused by an extremely rare sequence of events, involving a number of parties, and the issue we experienced at Hornsea 1 was quickly resolved. However, in recognition of our role in the outage, we have offered to make a voluntary contribution to Ofgem’s redress fund.
“We have co-operated with Ofgem throughout their investigations and conducted a thorough internal review of the events in order to prevent a situation like this from happening again.”