Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 09:30 UK

No payout prospect over power cut

The bridge over Dartford Creek  where the fire broke out
Several homes were left without power for up to three days

The government says it cannot guarantee compensation for people affected when 90,000 homes on the London/Kent border were hit by a three-day power cut.

People in Dartford, Orpington, Erith, Bexleyheath and Crayford were left without power in July after a suspected vandal attack on a cable bridge.

EDF Energy is applying for an exemption from paying compensation claiming the incident was "out of its control".

Energy Minister David Kidney said it was not possible to fight the process.

He advised unhappy residents to approach the energy ombudsman and promised to look at the regulations.

The company EDF certainly did not consult me on whether they should claim an exemption
David Kidney, Energy Minister

A fire on a cable bridge over Dartford Creek damaged four major electricity circuits on 20 July, affecting homes, businesses, petrol stations as well as Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford.

EDF Energy has offered a "goodwill payment" of £50 but only to properties left without power for more than 24 hours.

The firm said: "In terms of offering a goodwill payment to the worst affected customers, we discussed our proposed approach with Ofgem at the time and they understood and noted our position.

"In our view this incident was clearly exempt from the normal Guaranteed Standards of Service.

"However we decided to offer a goodwill payment of £50 to customers who were off supply continuously for at least 24 hours from the start of the incident and to claim this, customers should contact us by 31 October."

The Energy Minister David Kidney told MPs: "I have to say first of all that the company EDF certainly did not consult me on whether they should claim an exemption.

"I have asked if I can object to them claiming an exemption, apparently the regulations don't provide for that."

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