Northern Powergrid reveal improvements and new systems to better prepare Northumberland for storms
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Staff at Northern Powergrid, Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan and members of Northumberland County Council hosted a community meeting in Belford Primary School on Friday outlining the work done in readiness for future storms.
Ms Trevelyan, said: “What we can’t do is stop the weather, but we can be resilient and prepared.
"I am really pleased Northern Powergrid is making these improvements to build resilience, not only in the power systems themselves, but in the communications and handling of the aftermath.
"So many of us could not get through to report our outages, or receive accurate information on repairs. I am hopeful the improvements made will be noticeable come the next major storm, and I welcome the work being done with parish councils to supply emergency generators."
Paul Glendinning, Northern Powergrid’s director of policy and markets, said: “We’ve focused on ensuring we are prepared through investment in our network, website, contact centre and discretionary welfare support arrangements so we can support our customers this winter.
“In the last year we have improved our website to support peak customer demands, built a new power cut map to support our customers and have invested in a new telephony system in our contact centre which enables mass messaging to inform customers what we are doing to restore their power.
"We have also worked closely with a range of local organisations so we can play our part if there was ever a major storm that needed a wider response led by local resilience partners.
“Helping our customers and communities be prepared and more resilient is important to us.
"We’ve also shared information about how we remain weather aware and invest in network inspections, vegetation management and flood defences to help reduce the risk of damage to our network from severe weather.”
He outlined work that’s been done over the past year.
During Storm Arwen, the Northern Powergrid website went down due to the large numbers of users accessing the site. This meant people struggled to get updates on the situation. Since, the website has been renewed meaning it can hold 30,000 users at one time.
Phone lines have also undergone improvements. The line can take up to 10,000 calls per day from 440 remote workers. A handful of workers will be working around the clock, meaning calls can take place during the night.
Updates from the power company to members of the community predominantly took place over social media during Storm Arwen. Northern Powergrid has now made an agreement with BBC local radio to broadcast any updates through their platform.
Northern Powergrid have also launched a live power cut map. This means that during a storm, authorities can see areas in need of help. Hopefully, due to this feature, help will be delivered to those areas quickly.
Moving vulnerable people
During Storm Arwen, many people who were left without power, water and supplies were told they’d have to leave home. For reasons such as farm animals and pets, this wasn’t always possible. Now, there are 100 wheelbarrow generator sets ready to be taken to people in these circumstances, allowing them to safely stay home.
Foundation soft launch
Northern Powergrid are giving donations to registered bodies, for example parish councils, all over the county. The idea is that in an emergency, these places can open their doors for local people. Before Christmas, between £350,000 and £400,000 will be given throughout the community. Forms to get the grant have been posted, but if you haven’t received one, contact Northern Powergrid at 0800 011 3332.
The priority service has also been revisited to become more efficient. By informing the company on your location, medical conditions or special needs, they can prioritise help to your location in future storms. Information can also be passed onto relevant services in the community, such as social services, to ensure you get the help required. To sign up to the priority service, visit: https://www.northernpowergrid.com/care