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How to get compensation for a power cut

If your electricity supply goes off, you might be able to claim compensation. Here’s how…

If your electricity supply goes off, you might be able to claim compensation. Here’s how…

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 31 AUGUST 2021

When can you claim compensation for a power cut?

Customers can claim compensation for power cuts if your electricity supply is cut off. This depends on: 

  • how long the power was cut off for 
  • if the power cut was planned 

You’ll only get compensation if the power cut was the electricity distributor’s fault. If you accidentally cut through a power cable while doing a bit of DIY you can’t get compensation. 

If you are currently experiencing a power cut see our guide what to do in a power cut

Who should I claim compensation from for a power cut?

If you want to claim for compensation you need to contact the power distributor for your area, not your power supplier. Find out who your distribution network operator is by entering your postcode.

How much compensation will I get?

It depends on the problem and how long it lasted. Energy regulator Ofgem sets Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards, which should be met by electricity distribution companies. They include guidance on how quickly companies must respond to restore power, in both normal and severe weather conditions, and if the power is cut off for another reason, like electricity supply shortages. They also set out the compensation payments to customers if the standards aren’t met. 

Payments under the guaranteed standards recognise the inconvenience caused by loss of supply. But they’re not designed to compensate customers for financial loss caused by the loss of power. 

In normal weather if you’re cut off for 12 hours  you can claim: 

  • £75 as a domestic customer
  • £150 as a non-domestic customer 

You could also be paid an extra £35 for each extra period of 12 hours during which your supply is not restored, up to a maximum of £300 in total. 

If more than 5,000 homes are affected by a single fault, local network companies have 24 hours to restore supplies. 

In severe weather how much you can claim depends on the storm category.  

Depending on the storm category, power companies are allowed a set amount of time to restore power before they must pay compensation. The more severe the storm, the longer that these companies have to rectify any damage. 

  • Storm category 1: after 24 hours 
  • Storm category 2: after 48 hours
  • Category 3: the length of time without supply depends on the scale of the impact of the weather. 

You have to be cut off continuously during the set period to qualify for the payment. 

The storm categorisation isn’t based on how the Met Office categorises storms, but on the amount of damage a storm causes. For example, Ofgem says that a category 2 severe weather condition is “a storm causing more than 12 times the daily average number of faults in a 24-hour period”. 

If flooding prevents your distribution company from getting access to their equipment or your premises, the 24 or 48-hour period may not start running until it’s reasonably practicable for the company to reconnect you. 

See the full categorisation of storms in the Ofgem guide Knowing your rights: power cuts. You may also be able to get compensation if your electricity is cut off for other reasons. 

Electricity supply shortages – if you’re cut off for more than 24 hours, you can claim:  

  • £75 for domestic customers  
  • £150 for non-domestic customers 

A distribution company’s fuse stops your supply: a professional must visit the scene within three hours on working days or four hours on other days. If this doesn’t happen, you may be able to claim £30 compensation. 

How long do I have to make a claim?

You must make a claim for compensation within three months of your supply being restored.

I keep suffering power cuts. Can I get extra compensation for that?

Yes. If your electricity supply fails (because of the distribution network) for three or more hours, on a minimum of four separate occasions in a one-year period – beginning on 1 April each year - both domestic and business customers are entitled to £75 compensation.

How much notice has to be given for a planned power cut?

Distribution companies must give customers at least two  days’ notice for any planned power cuts. If they don’t do this, they should pay £30 to domestic customers and £60 for non-domestic customers. They should pay the same amount of compensation if they interrupt the energy supply on a different day from the one you were told. 

I haven’t got power because of a problem with my meter. Can I get compensation for that?

If you experience a power cut because of a faulty meter, you should make a claim to your supplier. You can find out who your supplier is from your most recent power bill. 

If you’re a tenant and your landlord pays the energy bills, they’re responsible for contacting the energy supplier. 

If you’ve got a pre-payment meter and the screen is blank or showing a message such as ‘error’, ‘call help’ or ‘battery’, there’s probably a fault with the meter. Tell your supplier immediately or you may find yourself without energy. 

Your supplier must send someone out to repair or replace the meter within: 

  • three hours on a working day (Monday to Friday except bank holidays)
  • four hours on a non-working day

If your supplier can fix the problem remotely, they don’t have to send out an engineer. But they must fix the issue within the same time period. 

If your supplier doesn’t take appropriate action within the time period, they must pay you £30 compensation within 10 working days. If they don't pay you on time, they have to pay an extra £30 for the delay. 

I’m not happy with how my compensation claim was dealt with. What can I do?

If you’re unhappy with your distribution company’s decision following a claim, you’ll need to follow their complaints procedure. If you’re still dissatisfied at the end of the process, you can refer the case to the Energy Ombudsman.

Can I claim for food in my freezer I had to throw away because of a power cut?

No, you can’t claim for financial loss from a power cut. You would need to claim on your home contents insurance for this.