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Incredibly rare event cuts power for 900,000 in the UK

Christian Fernsby |
The energy watchdog, Ofgem, is demanding the National Grid provide answers after a power cut left people stuck in trains for up to nine hours and cut electricity to almost 1 million people in England and Wales.

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The biggest power outage in a decade caused widespread disruption on the rail network during the evening rush hour on Friday. Traffic light systems stopped working, causing gridlock in some areas, and Newcastle airport was left in darkness. Power had been restored to 900,000 customers by Saturday, but the rail network was struggling to get services back to normal.

In a statement released on Saturday, the National Grid acknowledged the disruption that had been caused and said it was investigating what happened.

Ofgem had earlier demanded an “urgent detailed report” from the National Grid to better understand what went wrong, and threatened enforcement action.

The power cut was caused by problems at Little Barford gas-fired power station in Bedfordshire and Hornsea offshore wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire, which both failed at around the same time.

A National Grid spokesperson said: “The root cause of yesterday’s issue was not with our system but was a rare and unusual event, the almost simultaneous loss of two large generators, one gas and one offshore wind, at 4.54pm. We are still working with the generators to understand what caused the generation to be lost.”

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, the National Grid spokesman Duncan Burt said what happened was an “incredibly rare event”.

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