105 is live: The network’s emergency number

Reporting a power cut has been made as easy as possible with the introduction of a new three-digit number.

105 is live: The network’s emergency number
[image_library_tag c7c9ecf8-4bb6-4058-81f0-32ee18e0fc06 200×200 alt=” avid mith chief executive nergy etworks ssociation” width=”200″ ] David Smith, chief executive, Energy Networks Association

 

In the UK we benefit from one of the most reliable and resilient electricity networks anywhere in the world. Network companies are aware of the vital role they play in people’s daily lives and work all year-round to limit power cuts and minimise any disruption for customers. They are also committed to ensuring that if customers do lose power they are able to receive up-to-date information, advice and support if necessary.

A consequence of having such a reliable network is that most people rarely have to contact their network operator – they may not know which company it is, or what number to contact them on. Research by the Energy Networks Association found that 72% of people don’t know who to contact during a power cut, with many wrongly thinking they should call the electricity supplier they pay their bill to. Only 21% of the people surveyed said they would contact their electricity network operator in a power cut. Yet, of these, only 11% could correctly name their local operator. The regional variety in contact numbers across different network companies has added to the confusion and prevented a clear, national message emerging about who to call when the lights go out.

Having identified this problem, network companies have worked together to develop a solution and improve the service they offer customers; a single, national, three-digit telephone number for the general public to contact their distribution network operator (DNO).
As of 6 September, customers in England, Scotland and Wales are now able to call 105 to report or get information about a power cut. Customers can also call 105 if they spot damage to electricity power lines and substations that could put anyone in danger. The number is free to call and available from most landlines and mobile phones. It doesn’t matter who you choose to buy your electricity from, anyone can call 105. The new number comes into operation alongside all the other existing channels that customers can currently use to contact their DNO, including 0800 numbers, websites and social media.

Despite being a relatively simple idea, the delivery of a three-digit number is a surprisingly complex undertaking. Similar projects in other sectors have taken over five years to deliver a three-digit service. The launch of 105 is the culmination of a two-year collaboration between network companies with the involvement of the wider energy industry, government, regulators, telecoms providers and others. That the electricity networks have launched 105 in such a relatively short time is testament to the importance the industry places on work to enhance communication with customers. Network companies, and the regulator Ofgem, recognise the importance of customer service as a measure of performance and the sector consistently demonstrates high levels of customer satisfaction. The launch of the 105 service is an opportunity to build on that strong performance.

For anyone not involved in the network industry, this article may be the first you have heard of the new 105 number. Over the coming months I hope you will be seeing a lot more of 105 as we begin the campaign to raise public awareness of the important new service. The memorability of the three-digit number will be supported by a strong, identifiable 105 brand, and a national awareness campaign to cement the number in people’s minds and help improve public understanding of who to call when the lights go out.

This is also an opportunity for the networks to raise their profile and improve awareness of this vital sector and the role it plays in underpinning our economy and society – as well as the role network companies play in responding when power cuts occur. People will be able to see the connection between the 105 number and the unsung heroes of the energy industry who respond to the call and work, often in extremely difficult conditions, to restore power to our homes.

Though rare, power cuts can be distressing and sometimes have serious safety and welfare implications for the public. 105 will help people receive important information and advice when they lose power. It is a worthwhile undertaking and a service that network operators are proud to have delivered for customers.


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