Massive Diemen power outage caused by TenneT not meeting legal obligations: Consumers Authority

Power company TenneT failed to meet its legal obligations, which resulted in a massive power outage in Diemen in March 2015, the Dutch consumer and market authority ACM concluded in a dispute filed by steel producer Tata Steel, ANP reports.

The power outage affected over a million homes in Noord-Holland and Flevoland for around an hour, according to the news wire. Rail traffic across the country was disrupted, and Schiphol airport had to cancel a number of flights. Tata filed this dispute claiming that the company suffered considerable damages because the production at the blast furnaces in IJmuiden were shut down by the outage. 

Previous investigations showed that the power outage was caused by a technical problem and human error. According to Dutch law, a malfunction in a part of the grid must not lead to power failure. TenneT therefore does not comply to its legal obligations in the way that the Diemen power station is designed, ACM concluded. 

In response, TenneT said that changing the power stations to meet the legal standard would require massive investments, which in turn will increase the electricity bill for Dutch homes. According to the grid manager, a total investment of some 7 billion euros will be required. As the likelihood of malfunctions is already very small, and the availability of the high-voltage network has always been almost 100 percent over the past decade, TenneT considers such major investments unnecessary and "socially undesirable". 

ACM concludes, however, that TenneT can get away with a much lower amount by making adjustments on a number of important high-voltage stations. "With a relatively limited adjustment to a number of major high-voltage stations, TenneT can significantly reduce the risk of power failure during maintenance. This adjustment costs about 100 million euros, and therefore not 7 billion euros as TenneT claims", the ACM said, according to the news wire.