Power cut misery at St Albans industrial estate

BUSINESSES in a St Albans industrial park have condemned an energy distributor for a spate of sudden power cuts which have paralysed their operations and left workers struggling to cope in dark, unheated offices.

A faulty generator was blamed for one of three power cuts that afflicted firms based at the far end of Porters Wood, off Valley Road, over the past week. Then it and another generator supplying power to the same part of the business park were tampered with, causing another outage.

Most local businesses were unaware that their power was being supplied by one of the two generators in the area.

Andy Wright, production director of Photomec (London), was annoyed after the company, which specialises in motion picture equipment, suffered power cuts last Wednesday, Monday and again yesterday. He said: “It is not acceptable.”

Another businessperson, who did not want to be named, said: “It gets so frustrating. It just can’t carry on like this.”

The outages meant production came to a standstill for many firms and they also encountered further delays when power finally returned hours later, as they had to re-boot broadband connections.

Jessica Gallagher, press officer for UK Power Networks said: “The company would like to apologise to customers on the Porters Wood industrial estate for the power interruptions they have recently experienced.

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“Following a recent fault on the overhead network which serves the area it was decided to put in an underground cable to boost capacity to the industrial estate and to provide a more secure and reliable network for our customers.

“Underground cables are less susceptible to external factors such as bad weather and coming into contact with trees which can cause power interruptions.

“To carry out the work safely it was necessary to provide customers with an alternative power supply [the generators] which has been in place since January 25. Attempts were made to tamper with the generators so we now have security in place to prevent this. Last week a fault also developed on one of the generators which regrettably, on several occasions, has temporarily interrupted power to some customers.”

She went on: “That fault has now been fixed and we are hopeful this will have resolved the issue. We are working to complete the cable-laying work as soon as possible so that customers can be returned to the normal network.

“As a regulated industry we are bound by Ofgem regulations which say we can offer payments to customers who have had four or more power cuts in any 12-month period, starting on April 1 which last for more than three hours each.

“Each claim will be treated on an individual basis so customers would need to contact our Customer Relations department on 0800 0284587 to confirm whether or not they are eligible for any payment.

“Businesses which have been affected may be able to claim on their business insurance and we will be happy to provide details of power interruptions to help them do this.”

Jessica did not know when the underground cable work would be completed but said: “We are doing it as quickly as possible.”