AN ENERGY giant has apologised for a blackout which left tens of thousands of homes across Portsmouth in darkness.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Network (SSEN) made the admission after Monday’s power cut, which affected 48,000 people.
Engineers are still investigating exactly what caused the outage, which sparked due to a fault at a primary substation.
The incident was the biggest in a spate of four recent outages to sweep through the area, SSEN admitted last night.
A spokesman for the energy supplier said: ‘SSEN would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused and thank its customers for their patience as engineers worked hard to safely and promptly restore supplies.
‘Network faults of this nature are very rare. SSEN invests millions of pounds each year to maintain and upgrade its network so it remains resilient and any power interruptions are kept to a minimum.
‘SSEN continues to investigate the source of last night’s fault and will share the outcome of this investigation once it is known.’
In the past three months, three other high-voltage faults have caused blackouts across the Portsmouth area, SSEN said.
One was due to flooding at a substation and the two others were related to faults with underground cables.
SSEN said the three faults impacted 1,200 customers and that power was restored within 60 minutes.
However, further question marks have since been raised over the company’s ability to provide power to the city.
Former council boss, Councillor Donna Jones used Monday’s blackout as a stepping stone to strengthen her case for Portsmouth City Council to own its own energy supplier.
The council had previously submitted multi-million pound proposals to create its own electricity company, Victory Energy.
However, as previously reported, the plans were dealt a blow after the council’s current Liberal Democrat administration cast doubt on it.
Its fate now hangs in the balance and is due to be decided later this month at a meeting of the council’s top councillors.
Tory chief Cllr Jones said: ‘With the additional houses planned for Portsmouth over the next 20 years, it is key that Portsmouth City Council works closely with SSE as our licensed provider, to make sure the energy capacity levels in the city can cope.
‘While last night’s power cut was unusual for Portsmouth, we need to make sure we are protecting against it becoming commonplace.
‘We have a number of vulnerable people living in the city, be it the elderly, or the disabled and electricity is essential for them - especially in these colder months.
‘This is yet another example of how the council’s own energy company, Victory Energy, could be playing its part in eliminating major power cuts.’
Elsewhere, Gunwharf Quays was forced to deny claims visitors were left trapped in the centre’s car park during Monday’s blackout.
It came after comments on social media claiming the barrier system was not working during the power cut.
Yvonne Clay, senior marketing manager at Gunwharf, said: ‘Gunwharf Quays was affected by last night’s power cut for approximately 40 minutes.
‘Our security team was on hand with torches to ensure all customers were able to reach the car park and leave the centre safely.’