Asset managers pay £10.5m for ‘unacceptable’ UK power failure

GIP, Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Orsted are among the owners of the assets that agreed to a 'voluntary payment' requested by the regulator for their roles in a nationwide power cut last year.

UK energy regulator Ofgem has secured payments totalling £10.5 million ($13.8 million; €12.3 million) from several asset managers following the conclusion of its investigation into a power cut that brought the country to a standstill last summer.

Global Infrastructure Partners and Orsted, the owners of the Hornsea One offshore wind farm, as well as RWE, which owns the Little Barford gas generator, have agreed to make what Ofgem called “a voluntary payment” of £4.5 million each to address the failings which led to the event.

In August, both power stations lost a total of 1.4GW of power instantly following a lightning strike to the grid, with the loss causing further issues on the grid, part of the train network and two airports.

UK Power Networks, a distribution network operator owned by Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Infrastructure, additionally agreed to pay Ofgem £1.5 million. The company reconnected consumers who had been cut off without being asked by National Grid’s Electricity System Operator, which Ofgem said in a statement “could have potentially jeopardised recovery in the system”.

The ESO came in for criticism from Ofgem, stating that its investigation has raised questions about the ESO’s management of the system. It said it is continuing an investigation into the unit around its structure and governance.

The disruption experienced in the UK was described in a statement by the UK’s Business and Energy secretary Andrea Leadsom as “unacceptable”, although she stated Ofgem’s investigation will “help us reduce the risks of it happening again and ensure our energy sector is better prepared in the future”.