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Exclusive: £1Bn Profit But Not Enough Staff To Keep The Lights On:

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http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/exclusive-1bn-profit-but-not-enough-staff-to-keep-the-lights-on-company-blamed-for-christmas-blackout-mismanaged-holiday-rota-and-paid-chief-executive-17m-salary-9030829.html

The electricity distribution company blamed for leaving thousands of homes without power over Christmas boasted of making an annual profit of nearly £1bn in its most recent accounts, as its chief executive was paid £1.7m and its billionaire Asian owners took out a £135m dividend, The Independent has learnt.

The disclosure of the huge payments and profits prompted instant calls for customers to be reimbursed from executives’ bonuses and sparked demands by MPs for a parliamentary inquiry into the company’s handling of the situation.

Figures filed with Companies House for UK Power Networks Holdings Limited, part of the business empire of the Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, highlight how it made £939m of underlying profits in 2012 – a massive increase on the £789.7m it made in 2011.

The accounts reveal that the highest paid director – believed to be the chief executive and so-called “blackout boss” Basil Scarsella – was paid a salary of £1.4m and £270,000 in bonus and pension payments.

As far as the shareholders are concerned job done?

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And there lies the reason that private corporations cannot and should not be trusted with public utilities such as energy.

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And there lies the reason that private corporations cannot and should not be trusted with public utilities such as energy.

ultimately who is responsible?

well, to a point,YOU.

...you don't have to buy their product

..where british industry has let themselves down is, they allowed shoddy management and shoddy unions to dictate terms...and both factions want to screw the other over.

I still think there is a place for "ethical" national investing....ie those beholden by unions are seen to be flogging a sub-standard product,so don't get the business.

...and also those employers trying to run sweatshops suffering similar fates.

the future lies in "rowntree" style capitalism....those employers offering a decent wage for a decent product, will succeed.(and the bottom tier should be PROPERLY rewarded for their efforts.

..but the unions should be under no illusion, this is no free lunch....if you don't produce quality and pay your way, then no sweeties.

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And would the state run electricity boards have coped better?

no, because they were monopolist.

competition was badly needed...and still is to a point.

should they keep pushing the centralisation of housing/food/fuel/energy then WE(as individuals) need to take a bit of responsibility for developing failsafes and alternatives

..on or two solar panels at £100 or so a pop( less than most of your xmas presents came to), plus a beat up old car battery and an inverter will be enough to keep a couple of lights and a cheap microwave running should SHTF.(if you want to get really fancy then buy some plywood/plastic and go to the scrappie and get an alternator for your wind turbine......£50 the lot, no worries.

still not a replacement for candles and a couple of sacks of wood/coal but you need to diversify.

can''t be held hostage by the gas or electricity companies.

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And would the state run electricity boards have coped better?

Indeed.

A major storm such as we had last week will topple thousands of trees and power lines.

It takes time for the trees to be removed and the lines repaired.

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And would the state run electricity boards have coped better?

Even if they were worse and the looting was greater, which given the current state of affairs is unlikely, at least we would still 1. own the assets 2. be able to hold the minister responsible and thus 3. hopefully have some sort of say in getting a sustainable national energy policy for the future.

Privatization, globalization, trickle down economics. Robin Hood in reverse, robbing the poor to pay the rich. The only possible upside for the taxpayer was getting rid of the liabilities but, as the bailouts for all and sundry have proven, we are still on the hook. Happy new year.

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no, because they were monopolist.

competition was badly needed...and still is to a point.

should they keep pushing the centralisation of housing/food/fuel/energy then WE(as individuals) need to take a bit of responsibility for developing failsafes and alternatives

can''t be held hostage by the gas or electricity companies.

I'd like to be energy self-sufficient. I've just replaced 4 GU10 Halogen spotlight bulbs (50w each), for 4 GU10 LED bulbs (4.5w each), so was 200w vs now 18w, and just as bright. It's the best way to stick it to higher prices. Reduce demand. We should be making it so we use less electricity, and take some responsibility for having means of backup if there are outages. Insulation, fewer TVs, electric heaters, laptops/tablets vs desktops.

If I ever get a house I'd like to install a ground source heat pump, and whilst I've not done much research, think it could be done much cheaper than many quotes I've seen. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2287263/heat-pumps-poised-for-significant-role-says-energy-saving-trust

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Even if they were worse and the looting was greater, which given the current state of affairs is unlikely, at least we would still 1. own the assets 2. be able to hold the minister responsible and thus 3. hopefully have some sort of say in getting a sustainable national energy policy

How romantic.

We wouldn't own anything, the state would. Last I checked the state had very little to do with "we". "TPTB" perhaps.

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How romantic.

We wouldn't own anything, the state would. Last I checked the state had very little to do with "we". "TPTB" perhaps.

I still don't own anything, but I'm paying through the nose for the service.

Can't see the difference between a state monopoly and a state subsidised monopoly. Maybe you can because you're the one getting the subsidy.

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I'd like to be energy self-sufficient. I've just replaced 4 GU10 Halogen spotlight bulbs (50w each), for 4 GU10 LED bulbs (4.5w each), so was 200w vs now 18w, and just as bright. It's the best way to stick it to higher prices. Reduce demand. We should be making it so we use less electricity, and take some responsibility for having means of backup if there are outages. Insulation, fewer TVs, electric heaters, laptops/tablets vs desktops.

If I ever get a house I'd like to install a ground source heat pump, and whilst I've not done much research, think it could be done much cheaper than many quotes I've seen. http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2287263/heat-pumps-poised-for-significant-role-says-energy-saving-trust

Even a groundsource heat pump needs electricity to operate, about 10 amp i amp told. The only thing that is free electricity is a good old fashioned candle and wood/coal burner.

As an electrician it is more than about having the staff resources, it is about whether it is safe to reinstate, if the area is still flooded NO if there are still high winds NO

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I seem to remember the leccy bill was more of a headache pre privatisation. Nationalised industry can get away with being inefficient and the punters pay more but never mind, we own it.

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Why go with solar panels, you might as well get a small generator you'll get far more bang for buck for emergency use.

because your diesel for the generators will be driven to the forecourt(and pumped) by devices hooked up to the main electricity grid.when that fails, you can expect pretty much everything from tapped water to food distribution to fail.

most people are on gas or electric (from a central source) central heating, would be wise to have a small wood or coal burning fire too, along with a bit of the black stuff in reserve.

the whole point is everything is too centralised.

and being centralised makes for insane amounts of vulnerability if the bottlenecks get targetted.

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because your diesel for the generators will be driven to the forecourt(and pumped) by devices hooked up to the main electricity grid.when that fails, you can expect pretty much everything from tapped water to food distribution to fail.

most people are on gas or electric (from a central source) central heating, would be wise to have a small wood or coal burning fire too, along with a bit of the black stuff in reserve.

the whole point is everything is too centralised.

and being centralised makes for insane amounts of vulnerability if the bottlenecks get targetted.

You're exactly right. The sun is quiet now, but sooner or later we will have another Carrington event. That's what we should be prepared for, the Black Swan which plunges us into a new dark age (pun intended).

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You're exactly right. The sun is quiet now, but sooner or later we will have another Carrington event. That's what we should be prepared for, the Black Swan which plunges us into a new dark age (pun intended).

Interestingly, National Grid have some pretty robust plans in place, having done considerable research into the vulnerability of the grid. They are way ahead of most countries in this (with the exception of Canada which has already had to build in protection from solar flares into their grid).

In practice, the plans consist of geomagnetic sensors on "at risk" power lines. In the event that they are triggered, the lines will be disconnected until the storm has passed. This would likely result in widespread blackouts during the storm, but it would protect the infrastructure. In Canada, they've had this for years, but because of their high latitude, long distances and low-resistance ground strata, this is not tolerable on many lines, so they have had to install DC blocking capacitors, which allow key lines to stay in service without damage even during the most violent storms.

By contrast, most countries are totally unprepared, without even the capability to monitor "at risk" power lines, or even reliable knowledge as to which lines are vulnerable.

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Interestingly, National Grid have some pretty robust plans in place, having done considerable research into the vulnerability of the grid. They are way ahead of most countries in this (with the exception of Canada which has already had to build in protection from solar flares into their grid).

In practice, the plans consist of geomagnetic sensors on "at risk" power lines. In the event that they are triggered, the lines will be disconnected until the storm has passed. This would likely result in widespread blackouts during the storm, but it would protect the infrastructure. In Canada, they've had this for years, but because of their high latitude, long distances and low-resistance ground strata, this is not tolerable on many lines, so they have had to install DC blocking capacitors, which allow key lines to stay in service without damage even during the most violent storms.

By contrast, most countries are totally unprepared, without even the capability to monitor "at risk" power lines, or even reliable knowledge as to which lines are vulnerable.

Satellites blown for sure, GPS down. With today's ever-shrinking silicon geometries, you really don't need much energy to disrupt electronics. Even a couple of bit errors in a SDRAM will crash your computer, if they're in the wrong place. It won't be just the long-distance metallic structures if we get a repeat.

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So why don't we just ban Christmas?

Storms are a rare event it could be another 100 years before we get another storm like this one over the Christmas period. So if you want 24/365 service from other people why don't you give 24/365 service yourself.

Personally I think it's nice for people to have the time off and accept the fall in services.

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So why don't we just ban Christmas?

Storms are a rare event it could be another 100 years before we get another storm like this one over the Christmas period. So if you want 24/365 service from other people why don't you give 24/365 service yourself.

Personally I think it's nice for people to have the time off and accept the fall in services.

The problem is that the storm of 23-24 December was not that unusual storm for a UK winter except in terms of its central pressure.

The actual isobar gradients and levels of precipitation were unremarkable for such a big depression

The winds gusted at about 80-90 max mph in most the English channel and there was 2-3 inches rain in the South East.

That happens on average once very 5 years though obviously not always at Christmas

I have lived on the south coast for well over a quarter of a century and the damage I saw on Christmas Eve morning was trivial compared to the Great Storm of 1987 or the Burns Day Storm of 1990 where gusts in coastal west Sussex were over 100 mph. In fact I think the storm was less strong than the one which caused the big tidal surge in the North sea earlier in December. My brothers wife used to work for the old CEGB and she has told me that since privatisation much of the essential maintenance that was done on the grid has been cut to the bone. The principle used is spend no money and fix on fail so if there was ever a repeat of the winds of the earlier storm big swathes of the country might end up without power for weeks since there are simply not the staff available to repair it. That would have an economic impact a lot bigger than people just moaning about having cold Christmas dinner by candle light. It is also worth pointing out that Britain's anti-terror legislation includes acts that deliberately threaten the electrical grid. Whether simple neglect of grid comes into that category is a moot point but Cameron will be aware that concern about the UK power grid is not confined to winging Tory voters in Surrey and Kent. A lot of big business stand to lose big bucks if they are without power for more than a few days. I know some have stand by generators for places like data centre but they are a stop gap and they certainly wont be any use if their customers have no power with which to reach them.

Edited by stormymonday_2011

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