Jersey government: Gas outage is 'entirely down to Island Energy'

​Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Helen Miles (36771196)

THE government minister with political responsibility for gas said she was “disappointed and frustrated” by the outage and would commission a review to identify what went wrong and what lessons could be learned.

Although there is no gas regulator in Jersey, Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles is designated as the “competent authority” for gas, electricity and fuel under emergency planning legislation.

A meeting of the Council of Ministers was held on Sunday afternoon to co-ordinate the government response, which is focused on supporting Island Energy with communications.

She said: “I am very disappointed and very frustrated that 4,400 households and businesses are without gas, because it’s obviously very difficult for people, and particularly for vulnerable people and businesses, who rely on a gas supply.”

Asked if she was also disappointed that the Island-wide network had had a single point of failure, she replied: “I’m disappointed that there’s been any failure of our energy supply at all.

“Island Energy are a private gas company and always have been.

“They suffered an incredibly unfortunate technical fault at the weekend that has completely shut down the gas network.

“All I would say is that they have taken steps to rectify that as soon as possible. They put into place their business continuity planning, and we’re hoping to hear from them soon as to when the supply is going to be restored.”

Asked if the government had stepped in to help, Deputy Miles said: “We have helped from a communications perspective, so we’ve been sharing the messages coming in from Island Energy. Obviously, we’re very concerned about vulnerable parishioners.

“What I would do is encourage anybody that needs support from a welfare perspective to get in touch with their parish hall.

“And if anybody has any concerns about their actual gas supply or safety, they must speak to Island Energy about that.”

Deputy Miles ruled out the government providing any financial compensation to Islanders.

She said: “I think that this is entirely down to Island Energy and the businesses themselves because there is a private contract with their energy supplier.

“I think the most important thing for me is actually to get the supply back up and running, and then look at what lessons can be learned afterwards.

“Other than helping with communications, I don’t think we can do more in terms of interfering with the operation of a private company.

“I am the competent authority for gas and I am satisfied that Island Energy have put into place their business continuity planning, and that they’re taking every step possible to renew the supply.”

With no specific regulator in Jersey, the minister said that some extra safeguards may be considered.

She said: “Obviously, there is Ofgem in the UK, but the gas supply over here is regulated through our Health and Safety at Work Law.

“We are doing some pieces of work around building safety, and certainly the supply of gas will be incorporated into that work.”

Deputy Miles said she would be reviewing what had happened over the weekend.

She added: “The first priority is to get the gas supply restored, and after that, we’ll be having a lessons learned review, which will involve me inviting Island Energy in to speak to me as the competent authority to understand what has happened and whether we could have handled anything differently.”

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