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August 2012

We Canna do it Captain, we don’t have the Power.

Last night, we experienced an area wide power cut.   Despite being in modern 21st century,  this is nothing unusual – they seem to occur 3-4 times per year, with an average length of about 20mins.

Many people in the area are fully prepared,  with battery powered lanterns, torches and the traditional candles and matches to hand.  But after you’ve provided yourself a bit of light (when it happens at night), you find yourself sitting there, wondering what to do now the TV, Radio, Computers have all gone off.   And of course, whilst your broadband has almost certainly gone off, your smartphone falls back to the mobile network for its internet which more often than not keeps working.  Anyone using social networks via their phone can tweet for facebook that the power has gone out,  and start comparing notes as to how far it stretches.  Most people wouldn’t bother to phone their power supplier to let them know about the outage, as I think the assumption is that they can detect it and start resolving it ASAP.

But do they?

The previous supplier of electricity, Central Networks used to have a map that you could click on and see where they knew there were faults.  Western Power Distribution , the new incumbent do not.  Now,  the information used to be available to the suppliers, so where has it gone now?  Do they no longer have the systems to collect this data from the grid,  or was it collated from their CRM systems?  Maybe they feel that it is some kind of sensitive data so best not to share it,  or simply that the bosses do not think this information is valuable to its client base.
I’m singling out Western Power, but a quick search of the power companies listed by the National Grid ( seem to highlight only 
Northern Power Grid (
Electricity Northwest (
seem to be willing and/or able to provide this information.   And good on them too.  Not only do ENWL show current unplanned outages, but also future planned work.   

So my point is,  if they can do it,  why can’t other utility providers provide outage information.  Or,  maybe its something that the National Grid can do – after all, they provide a live view of the demand (,  but can they see deep enough into the local grids to see the outages. 

Power cuts happen – its a fact of life.  But how long will it take suppliers to embrace the communication power of the Internet to get information out to its customers.  For now,  I guess we’ll just have stick with searching twitter for #PowerCut