You have probably seen the 'blackout' headlines everywhere yesterday so we wanted to just open up a thread to conversation about it and perhaps help to ease some of the worry and stress surrounding the announcment. Below you'll find some FAQ's and some statements from Nation Grid.

For a bit of context and background the National Grid would use new tools to manage and maintain the electricity supply this winter. The new tools developed for this winter include:

  • Winter contingency contracts (coal).
  • Demand Flexibility Service which businesses and the public can get behind and be paid to move their electricity use out of peak hours.

However, there are a number of uncertainties heading into this winter including the war in Ukraine and, as always, the weather which means that it is sensible to plan for a scenario where there might not be enough gas (still used to generate a hefty load of electricity) in the UK.

Will there be ‘blackouts’ or power cuts/outages this winter?

The National Grid in their winter assessment say that there will be enough electricity in the UK to match demand this coming winter.

What if the National Grid is wrong OR things get worse?

In the unlikely event of an energy shortage the government and National Grid will manage and coordinate temporary electricity disconnections. If short disconnections are needed this winter, they will be planned and customers affected will get advance warning from the government.

If there’s a blackout/power cut, what about vulnerable customers?

Customers who are vulnerable during a power cut, such as the elderly or those medically dependent on electricity, should register for the Priority Services Register. However, they must note that this does not guarantee them a power supply. It’s wise to ensure there is someone nearby that can check up on them or they can call on in the event of RLDs – to make sure they are well prepared. More information can be found at Getting extra help from your energy network operator – Energy Networks Association (ENA).

If there’s a blackout/power cut, what about people that rely on electrical medical equipment?

If you require a continuous supply of electricity for medical reasons and would need medical support during a three-hour power cut, you should seek medical advice from your local health service provider.

In most cases, customers will be familiar with the process and limitations of their equipment as power cuts can occur all year round, and have backup power sources to keep vital equipment powered for several hours during a power failure. This should be regularly checked and maintained. If you're concerned, you should speak to your medical equipment or health care provider now.

If there’s a blackout/power cut, what should I do about food?
Food in the fridge and freezer will be fine for a period if doors remain shut, so it’s recommended to take out and use any food you might need for the duration of the power disconnection, prior to the power cut.

If there’s a blackout/power cut, what happens to hospitals?

Most hospitals have backup generators to ensure they can continue to operate in the event of power disruption.

If there’s a blackout/power cut, what happens to hospices, schools and other core services?
Business continuity plans will vary across specific organisations and service providers. Power cuts can occur at any time so most will have plans in place. Whilst National Grid’s base case scenario does not expect any planned power disruption, it’s sensible to review any additional risks from three hours without electricity, as a precaution.

If there’s a blackout/power cut, what do businesses do?

Just like in unplanned power cuts, all meter points excluding some protected sites, will be disconnected, and this includes businesses. In a planned power cut scenario, there may be advanced notice so businesses can plan ahead. Customers should speak to their insurance companies to understand if any losses are covered.

But what if there is a shortage, what has the National Grid got planned?

In the unlikely event of a shortage of electricity, the National Grid would manage demand by what is known as Rota Load Disconnection (RLD). This would involve power being disconnected from specific areas for defined periods of time, on a rotating basis in different areas of the country. In this scenario the government would lead and announce if a RLD is needed and the government would help communicate where and when the RLD would occur and help prepare people for the short outage.

Rota Load Disconnections (RLDs), unlike unplanned power cuts, are planned by the government, controlled by the National Grid and are temporary power disconnections.