Ensuring Your Power Stays On
With so much of our busy, modern lives powered by electricity, a power outage can bring us to a standstill.
From household activities like cooking, heating, and entertainment, to the operation of our key infrastructure such as hospitals, airports, and even petrol stations, we depend heavily on electricity every day.
At Unison, we understand how critical electricity is to the everyday lives of our customers – from home owners to major manufacturing businesses. That is why we have a team of specialist engineers who are focused on ensuring the network is operating at a world-class standard; researching, testing and deploying the latest cost-effective technology and knowledge that will provide increased reliability to customers.
Some examples of how Unison is improving network reliability:
Creating a Smart Network: Unison is leading the electricity distribution industry with the deployment of smart technology that will automate many aspects of the day-to-day management of our network. Using fibre optic networks and radio transmitters, ‘smart’ technology can give real-time data to our Control Room on the state of the network, as well as perform automated actions that can restore power within seconds.
Reducing the risk of damage: With over 20% of network outages caused by trees coming into contact with power lines, Unison annually surveys the network to monitor the growth of trees near power lines, and has a team dedicated to working with landowners to keep vegetation well clear of the lines.
Proactive asset management: We are continually looking at new systems, technology and processes that can help us get the most out of our assets, by extending their life through careful management and maintenance, and by determining the remaining life of that asset, so it can be replaced before it fails.
Maximising Performance through Design: Unison is also continually looking at how network design impacts our ability to restore supply to customers, should a fault occur on the network. For example, we aim to design ‘redundancy’ into the network wherever possible, meaning that although supply might be cut off from one area of the network, customers can be reconnected using an alternative supply, until repairs can be completed.
Why does my power go off?
There are a number of reasons why your power may go off during any given year.
The most common reason will be planned outages so Unison can complete maintenance or upgrades to the network. Wherever possible, we will try and carry out maintenance using our specially trained line mechanics while the lines are still energised (called ‘live line’ work), but in many instances it is necessary to cut the power off so work can be completed safely.
Despite increasingly advanced technology deployed on the network, unplanned power cuts do happen. The nature of overhead lines means they are open to the elements, and subject to damage from wind, debris such as tree branches and third-party damage such as motor vehicle crashes. Unison has a range of electrical equipment on hand so that repairs can be completed immediately, but sometimes safety issues, difficulty accessing the site, or the share scale of the problem can delay efforts.
Underground networks have the benefit of being protected from these outside elements, but do still have limitations. Underground cables are subject to third-party damage, particularly during major projects that require roads or footpaths to be dug up. Earthquakes, flooding, or corrosion can also damage Unison’s electrical equipment, and with cables buried underground, it can take much longer to locate and repair the problem.
And last but not least, the power can go off because of a problem on the National Grid. It might be an issue with one of the main power stations, or it could be damage to the circuits supplying the region. And although this problem may well be fixed quickly, we can’t just flick one big switch and turn the power back on to everyone all at once – it has to be done gradually, and usually begins with areas that house key infrastructure like hospitals.
Are you medically dependant on electricity?
In the event of a power outage, activate your back-up plan, or call 111 if you are feeling unwell or have no alternative support plans in place. Please ensure you have registered yourself as medically dependant with your electricity retailer - their contact number can be found on your power bill.