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Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment she has made of the capacity of the National Grid to avert power blackouts in the UK. [130974]

The Government views with concern recent problems on the high voltage electricity transmission network that led to power cuts in London and the Midlands on 28 August and 5 September respectively. We have received a report from National Grid Transco (NGT) on the incident in London and we will shortly receive a report from them on the Midlands incident.The independent energy market regulator, Ofgem, and the DTI are jointly commissioning consultants to investigate the operational and technical issues surrounding these electricity supply interruptions. In the light of the findings, the DTIs Engineering Inspectorate will consider whether the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 were fully adhered to. Separately, Ofgem will consider whether any transmission licence obligations have been violated.