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Ministers warned of ‘millions’ of winter power cuts and rationed supply – report

·2-min read

Ministers have reportedly been warned of potential power cuts to as many as six million households this winter, with the Government drawing up plans for rationed electricity if supply issues deteriorate.

According to The Times, Government modelling of a “reasonable” worst-case scenario predicts major gas shortages in winter if Russia cuts off more supplies to the EU.

The paper writes limits could be imposed on industrial use of gas, including on gas-fired power stations, causing electricity shortages.

As a result, six million homes could see their electricity rationed, primarily during morning and evening peaks, in curbs that may last more than a month.

File photo dated 11/10/21 of electricity pylons in Cheshire. Gas and electricity companies will have to face health checks to test their resilience under plans announced by the energy watchdog to strengthen the sector after swathes of suppliers have gone bust. Ofgem said energy firms will have to undergo so-called stress tests as it unveiled a raft of measures to bolster the supply sector, which has been thrown into crisis due to soaring gas prices. Issue date: Wednesday December 15, 2021.
A Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson said ‘the Government is fully prepared for any scenario’ (Peter Byrne/PA)

Worse modelling is reported for a scenario in which Russia cuts off all supplies to the EU.

A Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson told the PA news agency the UK “has no issues with either gas or electricity supply, and the Government is fully prepared for any scenario, even those that are extreme and very unlikely to pass”.

“Thanks to a massive £90 billion investment in renewable energy in the last decade, we have one of the most reliable and diverse energy systems in the world,” the spokesperson added, “and unlike Europe, we are not dependent on Russian energy imports.”

But threats to security of supply have prompted Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to ask Britain’s coal-fired power stations to delay their planned closures.

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Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has asked Britain’s coal-fired power stations to delay their planned closures (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A Government spokesperson told PA the request for the power stations in Drax, Ratcliffe and West Burton, which were due to shut in September, to stay open was made “in light” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“It is only right that we explore a wide range of options to further bolster our energy security and domestic supply – bringing down costs in the long-term,” the spokesperson said.

“While there is no shortage of supply, we may need to make our remaining coal-fired power stations available to provide additional back-up electricity this coming winter if needed.

“It remains our firm commitment to end the use of coal power by October 2024.”

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