Hundreds Of Businesses To Be Paid To Shut Down To Prevent Blackouts

  • Date: 21/12/13
  • Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph

Businesses could be paid to shut down from 4pm and 8pm on winter weekdays, under plans approved by regulator Ofgem

Hundreds of businesses could be paid to switch off their power between 4pm and 8pm on winter weekdays as soon as next winter to prevent blackouts, under plans approved by regulator Ofgem.

Mothballed old gas-fired power stations will also be paid to come back to stand-by so they can be fired up to prevent the lights going out when demand is high.

The plans – which together could cost household energy bill-payers about £1 each – were drawn up in the summer after warnings that the risk of blackouts had dramatically increased because old power plants are being shut down and replacements not built.

Ofgem said at the time that the spare margin – the buffer between peak demand and available supply – could fall as low as 2pc by winter 2015-16 if demand is high.

Under the plans, a large commercial site such as a supermarket complex using two megawatts of power could receive an up-front payment of £20,000 just to guarantee it could switch off if needed – even if if was never actually asked to do so.

National Grid would hold a reverse auction next spring where companies will offer the lowest price at which they will agree to switch off when needed.

Grid said that 1,000 MW of capacity – equivalent to hundreds of industrial or commercial sites – could sign up. They could be paid in total about £10m up-front for taking part in the scheme.

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