20/01/2014 Inside Out South


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Hello from Petersfield, and welcome to Inside Out. Tonight it is all


about energy. Power cuts at Christmas as the energy companies


are called to account. Will we face cuts like this in the future? With


fuel bills rising, we investigate the world of energy theft which


could be costing honest households ?30 a year. And how to heat your


home for ?3 a month. I am off to the New Forest to meet an energy


conscious couple. I am Jon Cuthill and this is Inside Out. First


tonight, let's talk power cuts. This winter 130,000 homes and businesses


in the south have been affected. This area was pretty badly hit and


has left customers angry. The government are asking questions


about what went wrong. Christmas, the season of goodwill and a time


for twinkly lights and cooking turkeys. To get the party started


you need electricity and without it, Christmas is not fun. As the big day


approached, big storms battered the South. Power cuts affected thousands


of homes and businesses. Jeff and. From Hampshire went without mains


power for five days. They had a back`up generator but that failed as


well. You have got no TV, no computer, the hand`held telephones


do not work. The mobile masts are out because that has no electricity.


We had a landline telephone so we did have contact but if we did not,


we would have been stuck. Relatives from Australia were over for


Christmas and when the house got cold and damp, this woman got ill


and went to hospital. I nearly cried actually. Each day I thought it


would get better at it did not. It's just got colder. Of course, when it


comes to controlling the elements there is not much one can do. During


extreme weather, there are people we rely on to keep connected. Southern


Electric are responsible for the lines across the South. This is one


of the worst Decembers we have ever had. Flooding was causing problems,


access to look at the faults was very difficult. At the heart of it


we want to know that our customers know what is going on when the power


is off. We want to give them good communication and that they have a


good idea when the power should be back on. Good afternoon, thank you


for calling Southern Electric. Some customers say that information given


over the phone was confusing at best, and completely inaccurate at


worst. When the power cuts hit Hampshire, I went to see how it was


affecting people in this village. The day before Christmas Eve, the


electricity suddenly went. We could not get any proper information. They


said it was a technical fault but then we found out that the line went


down. After a huge amount of boning, somebody eventually told us that it


was impossible to get the power lines up for a long time so at least


we could plan. We had a generator for ten hours but then it ran out of


fuel. We had another one arrived from York. Again, we had another ten


hours of electricity and then that ran out of fuel. And patience was


running thin? Yes. I understand it was a power cut but they should tell


us the truth. At this nursing home in Hampshire, most of the residents


had to stay in bed to stay warm because of the power cuts. Southern


Electric sent a generator on Christmas Day, but no engineer to


hook it up. This was one of the stormiest Decembers we ever had. We


had as many staff as we could working over the period. We had men


in the field getting everything they could to get the power back on.


Sometimes things go wrong and we have to learn from it so we can


improve the service. The `` the company is being accused of giving


too many employees leave. Those on duty insist they were working flat


out to restore power. I did 20 hours on Christmas Day. What did you have


for Christmas lunch? Christmas lunch? I think I had a pot noodle


for my dinner. I went back to work in the afternoon. The crisis at


Christmas has called into question how electricity generated at power


stations gets to our homes. High voltage


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