England

EDF escapes fine over Dartford power cut

The bridge over Dartford Creek where the fire broke out
Image caption The fire on the bridge over Dartford Creek damaged four major electricity circuits

An energy firm will not be fined following a power cut that affected 94,000 homes in Kent and London.

Homes in Dartford, Erith, Bexleyheath and Orpington were without electricity for up to four days in July 2009.

The energy watchdog Ofgem said it was an exceptional event and there was no evidence that EDF's "actions or lack of actions" caused the incident.

EDF has agreed to pay £700,000 compensation to 12,000 worst affected customers on top of goodwill payments.

The firm also announced a £750,000 community fund for local causes and said it had carried out a full security review of the site and other similar facilities.

'Responded to concerns'

In a statement, Ofgem said: "The power cuts were caused by a fire at a cable bridge, and resulted in 94,000 customers losing supply, with almost 20,000 customers being off supply for more than 24 hours.

"The extent of the incident caused significant local concern which Ofgem shares.

"Ofgem welcomes the fact that EDF Energy Networks has responded to these concerns by making further payments in line with the regulatory requirements."

It continued: "Ofgem has regarded the event as exceptional and has concluded that there is no evidence that any actions or lack of actions by EDF Energy Networks caused the event to happen."

An interim report by the regulator said EDF should have done more to make sure the site at Dartford Creek was secure and was "minded to impose a revenue penalty of £2m on EDF".

A spokeswoman for EDF said: "EDF Energy Networks again extends its apologies for the disruption to customers following the fire caused by criminal damage in Dartford last year.

"This was an illegal attack on the network which disrupted and inconvenienced local communities for several days and cost EDF Energy Networks millions of pounds."

She added: "After looking at all the evidence, Ofgem has concluded that this was an exceptional event beyond EDF Energy Networks' control.

"Ofgem recognised that we successfully managed the incident, limited the number of customers affected and restored supplies as quickly and efficiently as possible in very extreme circumstances."

The fire on the bridge over Dartford Creek damaged four major electricity circuits, affecting homes, businesses, petrol stations and Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford.

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