Power cuts can affect many daily activities that we take for granted, from turning lights on and charging phones to refrigerating food.
Britain has a reliable energy system, but power cuts occasionally happen for example when storms damage electricity networks.
Who to contact and what to do if you have a power cut
To report and get information about a power cut or if you spot damage to power lines and substations that could put people in danger:
- Telephone: 105 (a free phone number)
- Visit powercut105.com
- If there’s a serious immediate emergency risk, call the emergency services too.
105 is a free service for people in England, Scotland and Wales. You can call the number from most landlines and mobile phones.
It doesn’t matter who you choose to buy electricity from - anyone can call 105. They will put you straight through to your local electricity network operator – the company that manages the cables, wires and substations that bring electricity into homes and businesses in your area.
The 105 website also explains what to do during a power cut.
Power cuts due to a faulty meter
If you experience a power cut because of a faulty meter, you should make a claim to your supplier. See Who is my gas or electricity supplier?
Extra help in a power cut
If you rely on your energy supply for medical reasons or need extra support, it’s important to let your energy company know. Each energy company keeps a Priority Service Register of people who may need additional assistance. It’s free to be added to the list.
If you’re on the register and experience a power cut, your supply may not be restored quicker but your energy company can offer you additional services. This could be regular updates, alternative heating and cooking facilities, or alternative accommodation. You would also get advanced notice of any planned power cuts.
If you have medical equipment that may be affected by a power cut, please discuss your concerns and needs with your carer or doctor. Ensure that essential equipment has battery back-up.
Stairlifts will stop working during a power cut. If there is a manual release handle, the lift can be returned to ground level. Some stairlifts have battery back-up power, which will ensure it keeps on working.
For further information, see Extra help from energy services.
Ofgem's Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards
Ofgem works to protect your interests by ensuring your electricity supply is reliable, whatever the weather.
We set service levels - Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards - that distribution companies must meet in their running of the energy network. These include rules on how quickly companies must respond to restore power in both normal and severe weather conditions, and compensation payments to consumers if the standards aren’t met.
Payments under our Guaranteed Standards recognise the inconvenience caused by loss of supply. They won't compensate you for subsequent financial loss.
In all cases, you’ll have three months to claim a payment from your distribution company.
Power cuts compensation in normal weather
How much you are eligible to claim in compensation under the Guaranteed Standards depends on many factors, including:
- the cause of the power cut
- the amount of time you were off supply.
See the table below for how much you could be eligible to claim if you've experienced prolonged or frequent power cuts in normal weather:
|Service||Guaranteed Standards payment|
|Supply restoration: Single interruptions||
If you are cut off for 12 hours or more in ‘normal weather’, you can claim:
A further £35 will be paid for each additional period of 12 hours in which supply is not restored up to a cap of £300 in total.
If more than 5,000 homes are affected by a single fault, local network companies have 24 hours to restore supplies.
|Supply restoration: Multiple interruptions||You can also claim £75 (both domestic and non- domestic customers) if you are cut off more than four times in a year between 1 April and 31 March for at least three hours each time.|
Power cuts compensation in severe weather
How much you are eligible to claim in compensation if your supply is cut during severe weather depends on the category of a storm. The distribution companies may be able to give an initial early view of what the category is, but the data is checked and verified by Ofgem.
The category sets the amount of time companies have to restore power before compensation must be paid. It is determined by the number of major faults experienced in a 24 hour period on the distribution company’s network.
See the table below for how much you could be eligible to claim if you've experienced prolonged or frequent power cuts in severe weather:
|Service||Guaranteed Standards payment|
|Supply restoration: severe weather||
The time you are off supply before being able to claim varies according to severity of storm. This is because the companies will have more work to do to fix faults.
£70 for domestic and non-domestic customers.
A further £70 will be paid for each additional period of 12 hours in which supply is not restored, up to a cap of £700 in total.
This applies to both storm category 1 and storm category 2
What Ofgem does
During a power cut it’s crucial that supply is restored as quickly and as safely as possible. We monitor how well companies do this, and take action if we believe they breached their obligations to customers. We also monitor how prepared the companies are for dealing with severe weather impacting their networks.
The electricity distribution companies and National Grid update us on how they are preparing for severe weather. They continue to update us during and after the period of severe weather.
Network companies are funded through Ofgem price controls to ensure that their grids provide high levels of reliability for customers, and so they can respond when severe weather impacts their networks.
We set financial incentives on electricity distribution networks to encourage high reliability.
Further information and advice
For a more detailed guide you can download and print, see Knowing your rights: Power cuts. The guide explains:
- more about the payments you could claim under the Guaranteed Standards.
- how to make a claim for a payment from a distribution company.
- how to find out who your electricity distribution company is.