Efficient and Effective

Power Protect

Project Data

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Power Protect is developing and trialling a new service to offer portable battery packs to customers who are medically dependent on electricity and experiencing an unplanned power cut.


What is the project about?

There are over 60,000 households on UK Power Network’s Priority Services Register (PSR) where someone is medically dependent on electricity. For these customers, a sustained period of time without power may seriously impact their health conditions.

UK Power Networks are therefore developing and trialling a new service to offer portable battery packs to customers who are medically dependent on electricity and experiencing an unplanned power cut.

It is our ambition to deliver industry-leading support that maximises the value delivered to our customers in vulnerable circumstances. Innovative solutions are required to support vulnerable customers during power outages to ensure the delivery of excellent customer service while restoring power, in both planned and unplanned power cut scenarios.

Customers who are medically dependent on electricity are categorised under PSR needs codes 1-4. The needs codes are divided into customers that require the following electrical equipment:

  • Nebuliser and apnoea monitor
  • Heart, lung and ventilator
  • Dialysis, feeding pump and automated medication
  • Oxygen concentrator

How we’re doing it

UK Power Networks collaborated with a leading research institute to understand the needs of our targeted customers through surveys, interviews, and trials. Power Protect will provide qualitative and quantitative analytics of customer needs as well as assess different types of portable battery solutions to meet our customers’ needs.

In parallel, we engaged with established and innovative battery suppliers. We identified multiple suitable solutions that will allow us to support customers during power cuts.

Lastly, we are developing a working process to provide our eligible customers with batteries. This includes champions from customer services, dispatch, and network operations directorates.

The three activities highlighted above will conclude in a live trial of the selected solutions and business processes.

What makes it innovative

Power Protect is the first project that we are aware of that looks to improve the experience of customers who are medically dependent on electricity and experiencing power cuts. Whilst a simple idea to comprehend, it is a significant undertaking to build a process that ensures the right customers are identified and supported.

At each stage of the project, we are incorporating best practices with customer engagement to ensure that the service offering itself and any customer-facing documentation and communication meets the needs and expectations of our customers.

What we’re learning

The first key deliverable of this project was to conduct research to understand the circumstances, needs, and preferences of our medically dependant customers. This research was carried out by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC). The research piece included a survey of the vulnerable customers registered with the RiDC in Great Britain, followed by a series of in-depth interviews.

The survey was developed through collaboration between the UK Power Networks consumer vulnerability and stakeholder engagement teams and the RiDC. The aims of the survey were to understand:

  • Information about respondents’ households and the electric medical and/or assistive equipment they have
  • Dependency levels on their electric medical and/or assistive equipment in power cuts lasting more than four hours
  • Needs, expectations and attitudes toward support and portable electric battery provision in power cuts lasting more than four hours. A total of 3,500 customers were engaged as part of this survey with a total of 886 complete responses received. This helped inform our selection of the participants to take part in the follow-up interviews to further discuss their needs, expectations and challenges if they were to receive a portable battery in a power cut.
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