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Blackout silence under fire

PUBLISHED: 17:02 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 August 2010

NEIGHBOURING council bosses are demanding immediate publication of a report into a three-day power cut that affected nearly 200,000 homes.

NEIGHBOURING council bosses are demanding immediate publication of a report into a three-day power cut that affected nearly 200,000 homes.

Jeremy Kite and Teresa O'Neill, leaders of Dartford Borough Council and Bexley Council respectively, made the pleas this week.

The Times revealed last week that EDF estimated the blackout in July last year, which affected homes across south-east London including parts of Bromley, cost it "millions of pounds" in "goodwill payments" to customers and repairs.

A report into the incident, commissioned by regulator Ofgem, was due to be released last October following the blaze at the EDF sub-station in Central Road, Dartford. It has now been put back until at least May, almost a year after the incident, thought to have been caused by thieves or vandals.

Councillor Jeremy Kite said: "Now Ofgem is in possession of the report it has a duty to publish it quickly and in full. The report contains facts and they don't change however much you review or consider them.

"I'm afraid local people are already hugely suspicious about the delay and Ofgem has a responsibility to the consumer, not the industry it is paid to regulate."

In response to an email from councillor Teresa O'Neill, Ofgem stated it has received the examiner's draft report and was giving it full consideration.

But it said it could not make the examiner's verdict or the report public because "it needs to be carefully reviewed and considered by Ofgem's senior management before a decision can be made".

Councillor O'Neill added: "Our residents suffered inconvenience and, in some cases, real hardship as a result of the power cut and they deserve to be told what went wrong and what has been done to prevent it happening again. Ofgem and EDF are accountable to the public and we think the report should be made public now."

At the height of the blackout almost 200,000 properties were affected, mainly in Dartford, Crayford, Bexleyheath, Erith and Orpington.

Traffic lights failed and residents and business were plunged into darkness as EDF sought to bring power back.

An Ofgem spokesperson said: "Ofgem has received the examiner's draft report and is giving it full consideration. We cannot at this stage make the examiner's verdict or the report public. In due course we intend to publish the examiner's final report and consult by early May on our decision on whether the Dartford incident is regarded as an exceptional event in terms of EDF's overall performance under the interruptions incentive scheme."

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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