Reliability and Availability

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Electricity powers our daily lives, which is why network reliability remains the highest priority for our eight million customers. Our network is crucial for everything from turning on the Wi-Fi to powering critical medical equipment. This is why we have grounded our approach to network reliability and availability in extensive stakeholder People and groups with an interest in our operations as the region’s electricity distribution network operator. This includes customers, local authorities and installers of low carbon technology engagement.

Power is available on our network 99.99 per cent of the time, so the majority of customers do not experience loss of supply year on year. However, if the lights go out, we are committed to restoring power as quickly as possible. We are always investigating new ways to ensure electricity is reliable and available.

We are on track to significantly outperform our current plans, having reduced the number of power cuts by 29 per cent and how long they last by 35 per cent. We have used this period to investigate areas where we can further improve customer service, including investment in our low voltage (LV) network, restoration times, and raising service levels for those who experience a worse-than-average level of service.

Our commitments for the next business plan period (2023-2028) target a step change in automation on our high voltage (HV) network, driving performance on the LV network, and focussing efforts on the areas of our network experiencing reduced service. Increased spending will support us in delivering a network that is more reliable, while being smarter and more flexible to enable decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods in our region.

Customer will see the following outcomes:

  • a 15 per cent reduction in the number of power cuts;
  • a 25 per cent reduction in the duration of power cuts;
  • no more than five interruptions in a year (for 99 per cent of customers);
  • number of customers experiencing six- and 12-hour cuts will be reduced by 15 per cent and 50 per cent respectively;
  • 10 days’ notice for planned power interruptions; and
  • power interruptions will only operate in daylight hours during winter months and will be cancelled if temperatures are less than 0°C.

Actions we will take to achieve these outcomes include:

  • establishing a specialist LV network management centre;
  • deploying smart technology that increases our ability to move electricity through different routes on our network (8,500 HV remote switches) and see what’s happening on our LV network (4,500 LV fault-monitoring devices);
  • innovating in flexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network to support unplanned interruption;i
  • using microgridsA small network of electricity users with a local source of supply (such as solar panels or wind turbines) that is attached to our distribution network but also able to function independently and new resilience technology to improve service for customers, especially in areas most disrupted;ii
  • enhancing first response to faults by deploying staff faster by both location and skillset;
  • using technology to improve network operability and manage planned outage risk, and proactively identify issues and deliver solutions to problem areas on the networks;
  • investing so substations can be isolated for maintenance and repairs without disrupting customers; and
  • expanding our Silent Power mobile battery units to support during network interruptions.iii

Benefits:

  • a more reliable network for our customers;
  • creation of a smarter network for future periods, facilitating the decarbonisationThe reduction, and ultimately elimination, of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In relation to electricity this means the reduction of emissions caused by the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the provision of entirely carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses. Decarbonisation of the whole energy system includes removing emissions from transport and heat, which will be powered by alternative low-carbon methods journey;
  • improved services for those who experience worse-than-average level of service;
  • more efficient targeting of future expenditure through a greater understanding of our network;
  • enhanced support ahead of and during network interruptions; and
  • improved grid resilienceA strong electricity network that minimises disruption from extreme weather and malicious activity, is a proactive force for good in the community, and maximises the benefits of new technologies such as batteries to develop a better energy system.

i FlexibilityFlexibility is the ability to increase or decrease the production and / or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers. We are seeking to adopt flexibility-first strategies, where flexibility solutions are the preferred means of balancing additional demand on our network is the ability to increase or reduce the production or consumption of energy at a given or requested time in order to support the wider electricity network and optimise capacity available for customers.

ii A microgridA small network of electricity users with a local source of supply (such as solar panels or wind turbines) that is attached to our distribution network but also able to function independently is a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is usually attached to a centralised national grid but is able to function independently.

iii Our Silent Power vans are electric vans with on-board energy storage systems that act as generators for customers when there is an outage. They aim to replace noisy and polluting diesel generators during power cuts and planned works. Silent Power is a low-carbon innovation trial consisting of three vans to provide a sustainable solution to restoring supplies to customers who have a power cut, particularly the most vulnerable and those with domestic solar generation. One van can power up to three houses or a small community centre for 24 hours and can be deployed in places that traditionally could not have a diesel generator, such as an apartment with no ventilation.

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