New three-digit electricity helpline will ‘cut through confusion’
A new telephone service making it easier for people to contact their electricity provider in an emergency is being launched next year.
The service, which is being developed by the electricity industry for launch in April 2016, will use the number 105.
It will connect callers who may have experienced a power cut, network safety issue or related welfare concern to their local electricity provider.
Ofcom approved the use of the number 105 after consulting on the Energy Networks Association’s (ENA) request for a three-digit number.
Phone numbers beginning 10 or 11 can be designated as three-digit numbers for new services.
Some are already in use, such as the non-emergency police number 101 and 111 for the NHS. Others are set aside for phone companies.
David Smith, CEO of the ENA, said: “The industry is committed to working together to make it easier for customers to contact their local electricity distribution company, especially when there are issues with loss of power, associated customer welfare and safety.
“Ofcom’s decision to give our application the green light is great news for customers and recognises the real benefits a memorable 105 number will bring for them when they need information and support from their local network operator in the future.”
Vodafone will be responsible for the provision of the new number after being appointed by the ENA.
Customers calling the number will be re-routed by Vodafone to their electricity provider, without having to know who that operator is.
'Puts people in touch'
"Vodafone UK put a strong case forward in bidding for this project and we are confident of a successful delivery,” added Mr Smith.
“Over the coming months we will be working with government, Ofgem and suppliers to help ensure 105 is prominent in public communications after it goes live in April 2016.”
Energy secretary Amber Rudd said: “British families and businesses need to know where to turn if they find themselves without power during severe weather or other incidents.
“A single three-digit number cuts through the confusion and puts people in touch with the information they need, when they need it.”
Phil Mottram, UK enterprise director of Vodafone UK, added: “When a member of the public needs to get hold of their electricity network operator because their service has been affected or they need to report a fault, it’s important that they can do so quickly and easily.
“The new, simple, three-digit number powered by Vodafone, will connect customers with their electricity network operator first time, ensuring they get the information and support they need at a critical time.
“Using our reliable fixed communications network, intelligent call routing system and the customer’s location, calls from either a landline or mobile made to ‘105’ will automatically be routed to the local electricity network operator – removing the hassle of remembering or trying to locate the company’s contact information.”
Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom group competition director, said the helpline would provide "clear value" to members of the public in "difficult and stressful situations" where it might be difficult for a caller to look up a long number.
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