Derek Thomas MP met Western Power Distribution (WPD) Chief Executive Robert Symons on Tuesday December 13, and joined him in calling on vulnerable residents in St Ives to cut the risk and sign up to the electricity Priority Service Register.
WPD is responsible for keeping the lights on for 7.8m customers and maintaining over 220,000km of overhead lines and underground cables, including across West Cornwall. The network operator is also investing in a host of new technologies, systems and skills to create the smart network of the future, including leading the world’s largest electric vehicle use trial.
New research by WPD has found there was a 138 percent increase in people signing up to the Priority Service Register last winter, following an initiative led by WPD and local MPs. Over 20,000 more vulnerable people signed up than during the same period the year before. However, an estimated 74% of vulnerable customers in Cornwall Council are still yet to sign up for the extra support they are eligible for in the event of a power cut.
Vulnerable customers can call WPD on 0800 917 79 53 to sign up for priority assistance. The Priority Service Register is free and confidential. During a power cut, people should call 105 or 0800 6783 105.
The register helps WPD to support people who may be particularly vulnerable during a power cut, such as those medically dependent on electricity, with a particular communication need, or who may just find a power cut particularly difficult such as the elderly or disabled.
Derek Thomas MP said:
“I was delighted to meet with Western Power Distribution and to hear about the important work they are doing in West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to keep the lights on and to ensure vulnerable residents get helped first in the event of a power cut. I am calling on all residents to call 0800 917 79 53 if they believe they would be vulnerable if the power went off.”
“I also discussed WPD’s investment to create a smart network for residents of St Ives . As the country’s energy use and mix changes, our networks are being asked to do more to take the load. It was great to hear how WPD are developing new skills and innovations to adapt for the future, keep costs down and give consumers greater control.”
Robert Symons, Western Power Distribution Chief Executive said:
“We were delighted to meet with MPs to discuss our role of keeping the lights on and supporting our customers. Since 2012 we have cut the likelihood of power cuts occurring by a quarter. However, we cannot eliminate the chances of power cuts completely, so it is vital that we know who our most vulnerable customers are so we can support them first.
“WPD is also rising to the challenge of creating a smart network that works for everyone. We are investing £7.1 billion between 2015 and 2023 to improve network resilience, connect new homes, businesses and generation, and to roll out new innovations.”