National Grid ESO - Power cuts explained  - sunrise over dark row of houses
Why do power cuts happen?
National power cuts in Great Britain are extremely rare these days and we’ve come a long way since the regular blackouts of the 1970s.

Local outages still occur though, for a number of reasons, but these are not the responsibility of National Grid ESO, but the distribution network operators (DNOs) who maintain the power lines that connect your home or business to the transmission network.  

If you experience a power cut, it’s likely to be a local issue, and therefore one for your DNO. You should call 105 to report the issue.  

Our what to do in a power cut page gives you the full lowdown on what to do, if and when you should have an outage. 

Major outages, although very rare, do happen. The last one was in August 2019, where a freak occurrence saw lightning strike two different power stations. 

The outage lasted a matter of minutes but still left almost 1m people without electricity, causing disruption to transport, homes and businesses. 

Power cuts are usually caused by: 

  • Acts of nature – lightning strikes, flooding and fallen trees can all cause damage to cables and equipment  

  • Accidents - damage to cables can come from contractors working on equipment or even from people digging in their own garden. Insulation of cables can also fail as it’s difficult to predict when this will happen. 

  • Fire or theft – which damages the equipment on the network or in substations 

  • Voltage dips and short power cuts can also happen, particularly in rural areas where overhead lines are hit by lightning or flying birds. 

If you do experience a power cut, it will almost certainly be a local one, so call 105 to report it straight away. 

What to do in a power cut?.