SP Energy Networks (SPEN) has enacted a number of contingency plans in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The network has said it is taking the actions in an effort to secure the power supply of 3.5 million homes and businesses who rely on it.
The measures include the rapid installation of new connections that SPEN has said will support the containment of the pandemic. These include connections at hospitals, care and nursing homes, water treatment works and food supply chain business.
Critical maintenance and repair work will continue, it confirmed, and the company is prioritising power cuts and urgent safety issues. However new network upgrade projects that involve planned interruption of power for customers have now been postponed or cancelled.
Finally, SPEN also stated today that it is deploying teams to undertake connections projects that are deemed necessary for ensuring the resilience of the grid.
These changes were brought in with immediate effect across Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, North Shropshire and central and southern Scotland.
Frank Mitchell, CEO of SP Energy Networks, said it was the company’s “top priority” to keep the power flowing at this time.
“We’ve already put huge changes in place to keep our staff safe and redeployed them on priority projects that will support the UK’s national effort to tackle the coronavirus. If you see us outside your home or we visit your property during the coronavirus emergency, please be assured we are there because it is critical.
“It’s absolutely essential our network holds up against storms and high winds so our teams are working to maintain and strengthen the resilience of the network we all rely on to take us through this storm season and beyond.”
Other networks have similarly announced measures to protect infrastructure at this time of crisis. Western Power Distribution (WPD) announced on Friday that it was shifting its focus in light of COVID-19, and would be prioritising responding to power cuts and safety issues and carrying out vital inspections and maintenance.
Beyond this, WPD is also carrying out critical connections work that supports key services. This includes the NHS and care homes, food production and sale and telecoms and broadband.
Operations director Graham Halladay said: “I would like to reassure customers that if they see us working outside or if we have to enter their homes it is solely because it is essential to ensure you have a safe and secure electricity supply.
“To keep your lights on we have to keep going and I would like to thank staff for their dedication and hard work. We have already taken a number of steps to minimise risk and we are constantly reviewing the situation and looking for ways to do more.”
COVID-19 has already led to a number of changes in the energy sector, as companies work to keep their employees safe and ensure the power stays on to support critical services.