UK residents hit by the ongoing energy and cost of living crises may face three-hour winter blackouts over the festive season.
[Owl has been taking part in the Demand Flexibility Service trials over the past couple of weeks which seems to have been effective in reducing peak demand at specified times by significant amounts, equivalent, in Owl’s suppliers case, of taking a gas fired generating station off grid for an hour each time.]
Matt Davies www.inyourarea.co.uk
Although National Grid ESO insisted the blackouts would only be ‘worst case’ measures initiated if gas supplies fall ‘extremely low’, uncertainty around what to expect remains a fear. In a report published in October, operators said the UK losing power was ‘unlikely’, but on Tuesday, an ESO blackout alert caused widespread panic before the energy firm promptly cancelled it, the Mirror reports.
In the alert, ESO said homes would lose power at 7pm due to ‘tight capacity’, but the firm took to Twitter, saying it had withdrawn the ‘Capacity Market Notice’. The removal failed to reassure UK residents, so many have wondered how to proceed if a blackout occurs.
With energy supplies already threatened due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, costs will likely skyrocket as more people turn on their heating to counteract the cold winter months. In 2017, The UK closed its ‘rough storage’, meaning other states could stockpile supplies more efficiently, but 70 per cent of the British Isles’ gas arrived from the ‘continental shelf’ and Norway in the winter of 2021.
ESO said residents would receive 24 hours’ notice before a blackout occurs, but the extent of the power cuts would depend on the demands of operating firms. However, as they are likely to be ‘rolling’ blackouts, the effects would be divided up, with certain areas cut off at certain times.
John Pettigrew, the CEO of ESO, said power cuts would likely be in the evening, as this is when demands surge. The firm said 4pm to 7pm would be probable – when ‘it’s really cold in January and February’, with vulnerable customers, including care residents, under the responsibility of network operators, the details of which are yet to be confirmed.
With supply failures, customers would usually receive compensation, but this is unlikely to be the case for blackouts of this scale, as the energy firms have planned the cuts and already informed residents. But ESO is thought to have plans to back up the nation’s energy supplies with coal generators, thanks to three firms.
ESO has also launched a ‘Demand Flexibility Service’, offering cash to residents with smart meters if they switch to off-peak energy. Residents who have registered with the service are to receive messages asking them to reduce their outputs or change usage times on specific periods of the day, meaning households may have to switch energy-guzzling appliances off when requested.