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EDITIONS
Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 17:50 GMT
Power cut pay-outs refused
Removing a fallen tree
Fallen trees brought down power cables
A second power firm has said it will not pay compensation to customers left without electricity after the weekend's storms.

Aquila Networks, which serves the West Midlands area, is invoking a clause which says compensation payments do not need to be made in "exceptional circumstances".

Manweb-Scottish Power has already said it will not pay compensation because the storms were an "Act of God".

Natural History Museum
Trees were uprooted in Sunday's storms
Seven people died in the storms which left thousands of homes without power and caused travel chaos.

Nearly 18,000 properties across the UK are still without electricity, although transport services are returning to normal.

Energy regulator Ofgem says the disputes over compensation will have to be considered case by case.

At the height of the storms on Sunday, about 100,000 homes in the area supplied by Aquila Networks were cut off due to high winds.

On its website on Thursday, the firm apologised to customers who had "suffered considerable inconvenience as a result of their loss of electricity supply, some for extended periods of time".

"We will consider making payments to individual customers who have experienced particular hardship," it added.

Manweb-Scottish Power, which supplies electricity to most of mid and north Wales, has also said it might make an exception for people who have "special circumstances".

Inquiry calls

About 17,000 homes were still without electricity in East Anglia by Thursday afternoon, according to the Electricity Association.

And in the East and West Midlands a few hundred properties were without power.

Essex remains one of the worst-hit power black-out areas, with about 6,000 properties still without supplies.


To tell everyone... not to bother trying to claim compensation will cause outrage and indignation

Ann Robinson, Energywatch
Electricity company 24Seven said it accepted customers were suffering inconvenience and discomfort.

Energy minister Brian Wilson has called for an immediate review of how all of the companies coped with the storm damage.

The government has also suggested electricity customers should be eligible for payments.

Industry watchdog Energywatch says customers are entitled to 50 compensation from companies once they have been without power for 18 hours.

For each 12-hour period they remain without power after that, they can claim a further 25.

There are exemptions from this, such as in the event of severe weather, but companies have to apply for exemption to the industry regulator Ofgem.

Ofgem spokesman Mark Stockwell said: "Companies are entitled to seek exemption if they feel they have done their best to keep supplies on and outside circumstances prevented them from doing so."

'Blanket claim'

He said energy companies could say they would not pay compensation, but customers could still apply for damages through Energywatch.

If negotiations failed, Ofgem would then make a judgement on a case-by-case assessment.

Mr Stockwell said he was not aware of any claims for exemption being made by companies so far.

Energywatch chairman Ann Robinson said some companies appeared to be making a "blanket attempt" to dissuade consumers from claiming compensation.

"The impact of this blanket claim will be to stop consumers who may be entitled to compensation from applying," she said.

Energywatch says any customers who feel they have a case for compensation should submit a claim in writing to their supplier.

If they are not satisfied with the response, they can contact Energywatch with the details of their case.

See also:

31 Oct 02 | England
31 Oct 02 | Europe
30 Oct 02 | Wales
29 Oct 02 | England
29 Oct 02 | UK
29 Oct 02 | UK
28 Oct 02 | England
28 Oct 02 | Business
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