What causes a power cut?

The most common cause of power cuts is damage to cables and other infrastructure. Find out more about the different types of power cut.

If there’s a power cut, report it online.

Planned power cuts

This is when maintenance work is carried out to improve the power network. A lot of work can be carried out without switching the power off, but sometimes it is necessary to turn off the power for a short time.

What you can expect

If your electricity network operator needs to switch off your power for planned maintenance, they will give you as much notice as possible. They aim to give you at least 48 hours’ notice. If the work has to take place because of an emergency, it might not be possible to let you know in advance.

Unplanned power cuts

Unplanned power cuts happen when there’s a problem on the power network. Like the trip switch in your home, the electricity network has safety equipment which switches power off if it detects a problem. This can happen if someone or something has damaged a wire, cable or other piece of electrical equipment.

What you can expect

If you have a power cut, you should report it online. Your local network operator will look into the problem and keep you updated while they work to reconnect you.

Depending on the cause of the problem, they might need to send a team of engineers to look at equipment or a substation near your home. They will rarely need to come into your home but if they do, they will always show identification. If someone calls at your door, always check their identification badge. You can call 105 for free to confirm they are who they say they are. Genuine power company employees won’t mind waiting outside while you do this.

If you are a member of the Priority Services Register and it’s likely the power will be off for a while, your network operator will try and contact you to keep you updated.

Power cuts because of an energy shortage

When there’s a shortage of energy, it might be necessary to switch off your power for a short time. This is extremely rare, but if it is needed, these power cuts will help ensure there’s enough energy for everyone, especially when energy is in high demand like during teatime.

Find out more on our ‘Energy shortages’ page.