How does lightning affect power supplies?

Lightning can sometimes damage our electrical equipment and cause power cuts. We keep in close contact with the Met Office so we are well prepared for any weather forecast. We never know where lightning will strike until it actually hits, but lightning detection equipment in our control centre allows us to see lightning storms crossing our area.

Although the weather is beyond our control we design our electricity networks to minimise the impact of lightning strikes by using lightning diverters on overhead power lines to reroute the power from the lightning strike safely to the ground, reducing the impact on our customers. When we refurbish overhead power lines we also use new techniques to increase the resilience and reliability of power supplies in such events. For example automatic switches turn the power off if lightning strikes our overhead lines, wait a few seconds and then turns the power on again.

If lightning strikes our overhead lines, or if tree branches or debris briefly touches the power lines causing these automatic switches to operate. Our electricity network is self-healing, therefore if the fault is transient it will automatically restore power supplies. We appreciate customers find these brief power cuts inconvenient but it protects our equipment from more serious damage and longer power cuts. Where the network does not ‘self-heal’ we send engineers to the scene to find and fix the fault.

Dangerous problem?

Please treat electricity cables as live, stay away and call us immediately on 0800 31 63 105 or 105. If you see electricity lines that are down or causing significant risk to the public please call 999.

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