Public encouraged to prepare for winter

NIE Network teams responding during a storm.
NIE Network teams responding during a storm.

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks has launched its ‘Preparing for Winter’ campaign calling on domestic and business customers across Northern Ireland to make preparations ahead of winter.

The utility owner, which is investing in excess of £277 million in upgrades to the electricity network over the next five years, is working continuously to ensure the resilience and performance of the network, but still wants customers to think ahead as supply can be affected by natural events, with severe winter weather potentially causing significant damage.

NIE Networks has responded to 14 storm situations between 2008 and 2018, compared to just six in the previous decade. However, despite the rise in storms, ongoing investment has resulted in the network performing to the highest standard even during adverse weather and the disruption to customers being minimised.

Kevin McDowell, Head of Health and Safety for NIE Networks, wants to ensure every customer is winter ready, particularly those who are more vulnerable or reliant on power.

He said: “Our ongoing investment is ensuring the network continues to perform to the high standard our customers expect as well as making sure we are as storm ready as possible. We’ve seen the number of storms double in the last decade and although we minimise the loss of power where possible, we want customers to think ahead and get prepared too.

“We are also continually improving our response times to ensure that those affected have power restored in the shortest time frame possible. Preparation is still important though and we particularly want customers within the agricultural industry, rural communities and those who have critical healthcare needs, to take the necessary steps to ensure that any duration of power cut is manageable.”

The ‘Preparing for Winter’ campaign provides a power cut checklist including top tips such as locating your trip switch, knowing your unique customer number, stocking up on battery powered lights and having the NIE Networks Customer Helpline number 03457 643 643 easily to hand.

Powercheck on the NIE Networks website is another excellent resource for providing customers with reliable and real time information about a power cut and the status of restoration.

Those customers who are dependent on life supporting medical equipment are encouraged to apply to the NIE Networks Critical Care Register to receive regular information during a power cut.

Mr McDowell continued: “Broken overhead power lines, stays or poles can occur at anytime but we urge everyone, particularly those working on the farm or operating heavy machinery, to be extra vigilant during these darker months. It is important that everyone is aware of the risks posed by damaged electrical equipment and how to respond – if you see anything unusual about our equipment, never approach it, always report it immediately by calling 03457 643 643.”

For further information about what you can do to prepare for winter, the NIE Networks Critical Care Register or to access Powercheck visit www.nienetworks.co.uk.