Davey in ‘no blackouts’ pledge

Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Contingency plans to prevent potential energy blackouts this winter include paying firms to generate their own power and shifting factory production to off-peak times, the Energy Secretary has said.

Ed Davey also declared: “There will be no blackouts. Period.”

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the Liberal Democrat minister sought to allay fears of an “energy crunch” following several fires at power stations and the closure of others.

He said: “We have extra contingencies on top of the caution, and extra contingencies on top of the contingencies.

“They (companies) volunteer to get payments – if the National Grid say, ‘we want you to come off the national grid for a few hours and generate your own power’, you will get paid for that.

“That is cheaper for the consumer than building an extra power plant. Cheaper, quicker and industry likes it.

“And some companies would change their behaviour, voluntarily, and be recompensed for it. Turning down their refrigerators by a degree, or changing a shift pattern for a week so staff come in earlier… The idea is to move factory production away from peak demand periods.”

Earlier this month Didcot B, a gas-fired station in Oxfordshire which produces enough electricity to meet the needs of one million households, was reduced to half capacity after a blaze broke out in one of the two cooling tower modules at the site.

The Didcot incident is the latest blaze to hit Britain’s power capacity, with Ironbridge and Ferrybridge crippled by fires earlier this year. Energy supply has also been hit by plans to close a site at Barking in east London.

Four UK nuclear power reactors which have been shut down after a defect was discovered at one of them will only be operating at three-quarters capacity when they return to service by the end of this year.

The UK is facing an energy crunch over the next two winters when the capacity margin – how much its total generating capacity outstrips expected peak demand – is expected to shrink to as little as 2%.

Mr Davey added that while the public should be energy efficient, turning off unused appliances and lights where they can, the Government was not making a formal request.

Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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