Government launches inquiry into UK power cut

The Government has announced an inquiry into the causes of the large-scale electricity failure that affected large parts of the UK on Friday last week. Almost 1m people were affected by the outage across a large geographical area, which occurred after almost simultaneous problems at two power stations.

The enquiry will be carried out by the Energy Emergencies Executive Committee and will examine whether there were any avoidable technical problems, and how well National Grid communicated and resolved the problem.

The government’s action follows a move from the energy regulator Ofgem which has already demanded an “urgent detailed report” into the incident and its causes. It has the option of enforcement action including a significant fine, although National Grid has said that the power cut was an “incredibly rare event” and was not caused by its own supply systems.

Supply failed at both the gas-fired station at Little Barford in Bedfordshire at 16:58 BST on Friday 9 August and then at Hornsea offshore wind farm two minutes later, with blackouts reported across the Midlands, South East, South West, North West, North East of England, and also across much of Wales.

National Grid power was restored within an hour but knock-on effects continued to disrupt train services in several areas into the following day.

As well as major transport delays, the power cut also affected public buildings, including Ipswich Hospital in Suffolk, where a backup generator intended to supply power to outpatient areas did not work as expected. East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust said that patients were kept safe during the 15 minutes it took to restore power to the site.

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