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01/12/16: Power network is winter-ready after £130m investment

Since Storm Desmond hit the region a year ago Electricity North West has invested more than £130m in strengthening and upgrading the power network to help keep the lights on for customers in the region during any severe weather this winter. Flooding at Rochdale substation during Storm Eva

Today marks the first day of winter and last week severe weather caused the loss of power to 18,000 customers across the region and engineers worked in extremely difficult conditions to restore the majority of customers within a few hours.

The financial boost, which will benefit more than five million customers from rural Cumbria to urban Manchester, includes 505 miles of trees cut, £7.7m in upgrading and replacing overhead power lines and £15.4m in upgrading underground electricity cables.

Last year the North West was hit by severe weather with Storm Desmond, Storm Eva and Storm Frank, which generated the wettest December since records began in 1910. 

Engineers worked around the clock to restore power to 55,000 people in Lancaster and Morecambe during Storm Desmond due to floodwater breaching flood defences which were installed to withstand a ‘once-in-100-year’ floods and more than 13,000 homes and businesses in Cumbria.
Lancaster substation during Storm Desmond - more than 20,000 sandbags deployed across the regionFrom Boxing Day to New Year's Eve the North West was hit by two more storms, Eva and Frank. Engineers restored power to 53,000 properties, including 26,000 affected by flooding at Rochdale's main substation.

Since winter £5.3m has been invested to help further protect key substations, including Lancaster, Carlisle and Rochdale, with new flood doors, applying waterproof membranes, cable ducting and CCTV which will help monitor any activity in the substation.

Peter Emery, CEO for Electricity North West, said: “As the region’s network operator it’s our job to keep the lights on for millions of homes and businesses across the North West, which is why we have made it our priority to invest over £130m in the network ahead of winter.

“Although I joined the organisation in May I fully understand what an enormously challenging time last winter was and I’m impressed by the dedication and commitment our employees showed when repairing the damage and restoring power and also the amazing support received during the storms from our customers.

“Thankfully for most people power cuts are very rare, but they can have a big impact, so we want to remind our customers that we are fully prepared and on hand 24/7 if they experience any issues with their power this winter.”
Carlisle grid during Storm Desmond

Five MPs from across the region have recently supported Electricity North West’s Priority Services Register which provides extra support to customers, including some older or disabled people, or those with a medical dependency on electricity. Customers can sign up to Priority Services Register here.

Planned power outages, which allow engineers to safely carryout work on the network, will only take place between 9am-3.30pm during winter and will be suspended over the festive period.

If customers experience a power cut they can call the new free national number 105 or 0800 195 4141 or follow @ElectricityNW on Twitter or report the fault online here.

This year also marked the third customer awareness advertising campaign which will help engage customers across the region through radio, bus and online adverts helping to promote that Electricity North West is on hand if needed.

For more information on how Electricity North West is prepared for winter watch this short video and for safety advice and helpful tips please go to

To get up-to-date information about flood risks in your area visit the Environment Agency and for updates on weather warnings and how to get your home ready for winter visit the Met Office.

Electricity North West has invested £130m in upgrading the network since Storm Desmond hit the region a year ago

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