Whose fault was the power outage that disconnected the East Coast from the mains like a Hornby set, turned off the traffic lights and darkened hospitals and airports?

It is a simple question to which the thousands of sufferers deserve a simple answer.

Declaration of Interests: I was among those stranded at King's Cross. It only cost me part of a family weekend and one night in a hotel, but I definitely would like one, and unlike most others who got stuck, I had the opportunity to ask.

Five days after the event, John Pettigrew, Managing Director of National Grid, was made available for an interview. As National Grid Lifer, who made a salary package of £ 4 million a year from the salary of a £ 12,000 apprentice a year, he knows his duties and responsibilities.

Mr. Pettigrew accepted that the failure of two power sources was the original cause of the problem, but said that this was extremely rare and the system worked as intended to ensure minimal disruption to the operation.

The thousands affected by the blackout deserve a clear answer
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The thousands affected by the blackout deserve a clear answer

But while disrupting trains, planes, and automobiles was "regrettable and should not have happened," it was not his fault. The responsibility lies elsewhere in the network.

You would not know it from the back of your utility bills, but this network is a complex chain of largely private companies, each one independent of the company, and responsible to both shareholders and customers is Britain's national infrastructure.

While National Grid (actually an international company with major US interests) is responsible for power transmission, power generation is the responsibility of companies such as EDF (a French-owned multinational).

Electricity distribution is now spread across 14 regional distributors, operating under six umbrella groups that own and maintain power cables and lines. These include UK Power Networks, which belongs to the international energy company CK Holdings and has a value of GBP 15 billion on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

If your own lights start flickering at this point, you are excused. Electricity is a complex business, but it does not seem to be as complex as the electricity business.

Paul Kelso

According to the National Grid, these distribution companies were responsible for deciding what and where on Friday evening the power was turned off to balance the grid and thus avoid an even greater disruption.

After all, there are the utilities where we buy our electricity, which is dominated by a "Big Six" that includes British Gas and Npower, and behind them are a number of challenger companies.

To oversee this and to defend the public interest is the regulatory authority of Ofgem. In this system, the Secretary of State for Enterprises, currently Andrea Leadsom, is practically a spectator.

If your own lights start flickering at this point, you are excused. Electricity is a complex business, but it does not seem to be as complex as the electricity business.

John Pettigrew is a vehement advocate of this structure, which emerged from the dissolution and privatization of the Central Electricity Generating Board in the 1990s.

He said it helped create efficiency, reliability and value for consumers, and will help Britain achieve its climate-neutral 2050 target. "Our network is world class for every comparator," he told me.

It did not feel like it on Friday night, and a government investigation will eventually find out where the blame for Friday's power outage ultimately lies. Mr Pettigrew warned that consumers will have to pay if they are required to make the system robust enough to withstand "twice in 30 years".

The failure caused a chaos on travel - especially at the King's Cross
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The failure caused a travel chaos – especially at the King's Cross

He could be right. He has at least 30 years of experience. That, however, is the problem for the industry and the government.

Labor's response to the chaos on Friday was to push for renationalisation, an idea that is theoretically well received, regardless of how its critics, including Pettigrew, warn that it would have an impact in practice.

Power is a politically strong topic. People hate high bills and the idea that privatization has not always brought the benefits of competition. There is also discomfort that is so hard to quantify as to invalidate that a fundamental national asset is not as nationally owned as we may think.

State control provides a seductive, simple antidote to these questions and will, rightly or wrongly, have won on Friday evening a few more supporters in the crowd in the hall.

And as long as the current system makes better profits than accountability, it will be a bit harder to counteract.

Sky Views is a series of comments by Sky News editors and correspondents, published each morning.

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