‘Utter complacency’: Energy bosses’ Christmas power cut excuses fail to impress MPs

Energy bosses have been accused of "utter complacency" after praising their "exceptional" efforts in restoring customers' power after hundreds of thousands were left without electricity over Christmas.

Appearing before MPs on the energy and climate change committee, network chiefs united to explain how well they had done over a period in which committee chair Tim Yeo had declared their performance to be "unsatisfactory".

Power distribution companies blamed the length and severity of the storms which battered Britain over the Christmas period for the extent of the power outages.

MPs noted significant variations in time it took for the networks to restore customers' power.

UK Power Networks took six days to restore electricity, while Electricity North West (ENW) was able to resolve its problems within just 48 hours.

"The systems were robust and they were deployed in the right way," ENW's chief executive Steve Johnson said.

But Yeo had criticised the networks for not moving more swiftly.

"The tone of this discussion has been utter complacency from all of you," Yeo said.

"It lacked any expression of real concern for your customers. It's absolutely typical of a monopoly, particular a monopoly whose charges are largely hidden from its customers.

"If you think this is going to impress members of the committee, you're going to have to up your act very quickly."

Network chiefs said they had only been able to rely on 50% of their staff and pointed out that in remote areas, particularly Scotland, it had taken a long time to access damaged parts of the network.