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Haven of help for vulnerable people

UK Power Networks is trialling the use of a community support team to provide on-the-ground assistance for the rare occasions when an area is without power for an extended period of time.

From Press releases - 25 April 2016 12:00 AM

Community van in action.jpg

UK Power Networks is trialling the use of a community support team to provide on-the-ground assistance for the rare occasions when an area is without power for an extended period of time.

The company, which delivers electricity to more than two million customers across the South East through a vast infrastructure of overhead power lines, underground cables and substations, is piloting the use of a specially-equipped vehicle to help customers who need extra care during power cuts.

The vehicle, which will be staffed by the community support team when in use and is currently being trialled across the south east, can provide:

• hot water and hot drinks, with flasks to deliver to customers on the company’s free Priority Services Register (PSR)
• hot food packs, pot noodles, and gluten-free food for those with coeliac disease
• Wifi – access codes will be provided by the UK Power Networks team on site
• microwave to heat own food, bottles etc.
• generator from which an extension lead can be run to a customer’s property for them to use a piece of equipment, for example to help somebody use medical equipment

Sam Fuller, head of customer services at UK Power Networks, said: “We’re always looking for new ideas to help when there’s a complex problem with the power supply which is likely to take our engineers some time to resolve, so we held discussions with our customer working groups about a support vehicle being a possible solution.

“We’ve used the vehicle on a number of occasions already, for instance when a power cut was affecting a rural area where a number of our Priority Services Register (PSR) customers live, including a large care home.”

The vehicle is used where:

• the power problem may take longer than five hours to fix
• many PSR customers are affected by a power cut and the time of power supplies being restored, is unknown
• a power cut has happened before, recently, and a full repair make take time to complete
• generators are being arranged but it will take more than four hours to transport and connect them

Sam added: “Our priority is always to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible, but in instances where a complex fault means the power cut may last for an extended period of time, we hope this support vehicle will provide a warm and useful haven in the meantime.

“I would stress that power cuts are rare but they can occasionally happen for a variety of reasons, and when they do, we will do our very best to help alleviate some of the inconvenience caused.”

If the trial proves successful and popular with customers, other vans will be used in the company’s London and Eastern areas.

UK Power Networks is encouraging customers who are more vulnerable in a power cut to sign up to its free Priority Services Register, which means they will be offered extra help during a power cut such as:

• A welcome pack with useful advice about preparing for a power cut
• A priority phone number that you can call 24 hours and updates until your power is back on
• Regular text message updates if you text ‘Power’ followed by your postcode to 80876
• Home visit from our staff or through our charity partnership with the British Red Cross.

The register is designed to help people who rely on power for medical needs or who would feel vulnerable for other reasons such as having a young baby or a frail elderly relative in the house.
Residents can apply at www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority, ring 0800 169 9970, or email psr@ukpowernetworks.co.uk.