Northern Powergrid accidentally sends out compensation cheques for trillions of pounds

An energy company has thanked “honest” customers who did not try to cash compensation cheques for trillions of pounds sent out in error.

Compensation is being paid to tens of thousands of people who were left without power when severe “once in a generation” winds swept across the UK in November last year during Storm Arwen.

Northern Powergrid admitted on Sunday it did not mean to send out cheques for trillion-pound sums to 74 customers in the north of England, with some customers receiving more than £2.3tn.

The energy firm blamed a clerical error in which the customers’ energy meter numbers were used instead of the amount payable.

The mistake came to light when one customer contacted Northern Powergrid on Twitter to share a photo of the cheque he had received.

Thank you for our compensation payment @Northpowergrid for the several days we were without power following #stormarwen Before I bank the cheque however, are you 100% certain you can afford this? #trillionpounds

— Gareth Hughes (@gh230277) February 12, 2022

He wrote: “Thank you for our compensation payment, Northern Powergrid, for the several days we were without power following Storm Arwen. Before I bank the cheque, however, are you 100% certain you can afford this?”.

The picture shows the customer had been written a cheque for £2,324,252,080,110.

The tweet accrued more than 27,000 likes in 24 hours, as others joined in to poke fun at the error. “Bank it! Then share it equally between us all,” one Twitter user wrote. “I think you own Northern Powergrid now,” another joked.

Specsavers even got in on the joke, tweeting “Hang on a minute …”

Hang on a minute…

— Specsavers (@Specsavers) February 13, 2022

The supplier confirmed 74 of their customers with Halifax and Newcastle postcodes had been given compensation cheques with an incorrect payment amount.

A spokesperson for Northern Powergrid said: “As soon as we identified the clerical error, which was caused by the electricity meter reference number being incorrectly quoted as the payment sum, we ensured all 74 customers’ cheques were stopped so they could not be cashed.

“We have been investigating how this error happened and carrying out checks of previous payments. All indications are that this was an isolated incident.

“We thank those customers who were honest and contacted us and we have been making contact directly over the weekend with all 74 customers affected to make them aware, apologise for the error and reassure them that a correct payment will be issued to them on Monday.”