National Grid will NOT activate emergency winter plan for first time

National Grid will NOT activate its emergency winter plan for the first time tomorrow after warning households may be offered up to £20 to cut electricity at peak times because of energy supply fears

  • National Grid was poised to announce the start of the Demand Flexibility Service
  • Said at 2.30pm: ‘There is no longer considered to be a requirement for service’
  • Initiative to avoid blackouts has been tested twice but has never gone live  

National Grid today called off a plan to activate an emergency initiative to pay consumers to use less energy at peak times to help ration energy supplies. 

The utility company had said it would announce today whether it would begin the first ever live run of its Demand Flexibility Service from tomorrow. An update on its website at 2.30pm said: ‘There is no longer considered to be a requirement for the service.’ 

The scheme – which is only available to those with smart meters whose supplier has signed up – is designed to avoid blackouts by rewarding people for cutting demand down at peak times. British Gas and E.ON have joined alongside smaller providers, but it has never gone live. 

Business Secretary Grant Shapps is planning an £18million public information campaign to offer advice and technical tips to help households cut their energy use (pictured on November 1)

The utility company had said it would announce at 2.30pm today whether it would begin the first ever live run of its Demand Flexibility Service from tomorrow. An update on its website said: ‘There is no longer considered to be a requirement for the service’

It comes as forecasts projected a large drop in the amount of power that Britain will be able to import from France. 

It will mean that the difference between the amount of electricity available for households and businesses and the amount they will use during peak times will be tight.

The scheme would have worked by asking households to reduce the amount of electricity they use at certain times – and promises to pay them for any reductions they make.

It has already been tested twice, but has never before run live. 

What is the Demand Flexibility Service and how does it work?

National Grid has warned that there could be blackouts this winter if gas power plants are not able to keep running due to the energy crisis.

The electricity systems operator said it is still unlikely but winter could see the first planned blackouts, which the grid calls rota load shedding, since the 1970s.

To try to avoid this happening they introduced the Demand Flexibility Service. 

In jargon it means domestic users, plus some businesses, will be ‘incentivised for voluntarily flexing the time when they use their electricity’.

In basic terms, this means paying them to run power-guzzling appliances and machinery outside peak times, so the lights don’t go out. 

Most demand happens during peak hours of between around 4pm and 7pm when people get home from work, put the kettle on, switch on their ovens and sit down to watch TV.

The scheme gives money to people who simply use less power at this time. The overall amount of electricity that people use does not have to reduce if they just change their usage to other times of the day.

For instance, electric cars could be unplugged during these hours, switching the dishwasher on could wait until 9pm and you could put the washing machine on earlier in the day or during the weekend. 

To qualify households have to have a smart meter. The request to use less power comes via their provider. 

Engineers working on the energy grid need to make sure it is ‘balanced’ at all times.

This means that the amount of electricity being put into the grid by power plants, wind farms and others should match the amount being taken out by households and businesses at any given time.

The grid plans for when it thinks demand can be high so it can ask generators to meet that demand.

But if there is ever an imbalance where demand is higher than supply or supply is higher than demand, it can cause major breakdowns in the grid.

Britain has one of the most reliable power networks in the world and unless cables are cut by storms or other accidents outages are rare.

But problems with France’s nuclear reactor fleet and a spike in demand caused by the first real cold snap of autumn means there is a pinch.  

If it’s used in future, households could receive payments of up to £20-a-day if they don’t use washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and even games consoles between 4pm and 7pm.

Consumers will be asked on 12 occasions to use less energy at peak times likely to be either 4pm until 7pm or 2pm until 9pm over then next five months. There may also be a test in the morning peak. 

They will be advised to use washing machines, tumble dryers, ovens, dishwashers and other appliances outside those periods so boffins can measure how much energy is saved on the grid when it is at its busiest. 

If the entire proposed £3 per kwh rebate if passed on to Britons by their supplier, over five months this could mean around £240 off their bills in total. 

Most customers tend to use electricity at similar times, with a particularly big spike in the evening when people get back from work, start cooking and switch the TV on. 

Millions of people around the country will be settling in to watch England play Wales at 7pm on Tuesday in the teams’ final game in the group stages of the World Cup. 

A previous estimate from Octopus suggested consumers could save as much as £240 if they rationed their power use over the winter months. 

France has been facing months of problems with its nuclear power plants, which generate around three quarters of the country’s electricity.

More than half of the nuclear reactors run by state energy company EDF have closed due to maintenance problems and technical issues.

It has added to a massive energy crisis in Europe as the country faces a winter without its old gas supplier Russia.

National Grid had previously announced it would announce whether it would go ahead with the Demand Flexibility Service at 2.30pm today. 

‘An anticipated DFS requirement notice has been published for tomorrow, Tuesday,’ it said.

‘This is an indication that a DFS service requirement might be published today at 2.30pm.’

It came as ministers urged households to turn their boilers down to 60C, leave radiators off in empty rooms and draughtproof windows and doors under a £1billion energy efficiency drive. 

Business Secretary Grant Shapps is planning an £18million public information campaign to offer advice and technical tips to help households cut their energy use while keeping warm.

It will suggest measures such as reducing the boiler flow temperature from 75C to 60C, turning down radiators in empty rooms and draught proofing windows and doors.

The government is likely to use TV, radio, social media and adverts on public transport to promote its advice, as well as on its Help for Households website. 

The two-part strategy will also include a £1billion ‘Eco Plus’ scheme from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to help middle-income households make their homes more energy efficient.

The National Grid is encouraging homeowners to take part in the scheme in a bid to avoid potential blackouts. Earlier energy company Octopus suggested its customers could save as much as £240

The government is likely to announce plans to fund loft and cavity wall insulation in a bid to reduce the UK’s energy consumption and save families around £310 a year.

Hundreds of thousands of households which have not been eligible for previous schemes will be able to benefit from the new Eco+ scheme, which will run for up to three years from next spring.

Eligible households within council tax bands A through to D could receive assistance to make their homes more energy-efficient through insulation.

Around 80 per cent of available funding will be reserved for households which fall into these council tax bands and for houses that are the least energy efficient. 

Loft insulation can save homes around £640 a year, while filling cavities can knock £525 off bills.

Eco schemes have already delivered more than three million energy-efficiency measures in 2.4million homes, the Government estimates.

Ministers hope the funding, allocated from existing budgets, will also provide certainty to green supply chains and jobs in the sector. 



The campaign will suggest measures such as reducing the boiler flow temperature from 75C to 60C, turning down radiators in empty rooms and draught proofing windows and doors (file images)

Mr Shapps said: ‘The Government put immediate help in place to support households in the wake of global energy price rises caused by Putin’s illegal march on Ukraine.

‘Today, we launch the first of many measures to ensure the British public are never put in this position again as we work towards an energy- independent future.

‘A new Eco scheme will enable thousands more to insulate their homes, protecting the pounds in their pockets, and create jobs across the country.

‘And in the short term, our new public information campaign will also give people the tools they need to reduce their energy use while keeping warm this winter.’ 

But Labour’s climate change spokesman Ed Miliband said: ‘This reheated announcement with no new resources is far too little too late and will help only a tiny fraction of the millions of people facing a cost of living emergency this winter.’

He added: ‘Labour’s Warm Homes Plan would insulate up to two million homes a year, saving pensioners and families up to £1,000 off their energy bills.’

The Government will also confirm today an £18million public information campaign to offer advice and technical tips to help households cut their energy use while keeping warm (file image)

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