The British government is planning for blackouts but it is an “extremely unlikely scenario”, according to Nadhim Zahawi. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said it is “only right that we plan for every scenario“, before ruling out a £14 million campaign advising people how to conserve energy.
The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), which oversees Britain‘s electricity grid, has said households and businesses might face planned three-hour outages to ensure that the grid does not collapse.
But it described this as an “unlikely” scenario and it would emerge if power plants cannot get enough gas to keep running.
Planned blackouts hit the UK during the 1970s in response to the miners’ strikes and the oil crisis.
There have also been major unplanned outages during storms, including in 1987 when more than 1.5 million people were left in the dark.
Mr Zahawi told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News: “We’ve got the second largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) processing infrastructure in Europe.
“Half of our gas we produce here at home, we want to go further – this year we’ve increased our output by 26% on gas. We’ve got interconnectors with our neighbours.
“Now, what the National Grid is saying is the extremely unlikely scenario where there are issues in Europe with the interconnectors and a very cold snap, so it’s extremely unlikely.
“But it’s only right that we plan for every scenario.
“All I would say is we have a buffer, the same buffer as last year, and so I’m confident that come Christmas, come the cold weather, we will continue to be in that resilient place, but it’s only right we have looked at every scenario.”
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is said to have backed plans for a Government-led campaign to advise people how they can conserve energy.
He said: “What the National Grid is doing with Ofgem is also having a communication programme to tell people how they can do better.
“We, ourselves, if you go on gov.uk you will be able to see how you can actually help your home or your business conserve energy.”
Pressed about Mr Rees-Mogg’s support for a Government-led campaign, Mr Zahawi replied: “The question you ask is about spending £14 million on a campaign. That I think is the wrong thing.
“The National Grid and Ofgem and actually a number of the energy providers are using the direct communication with households to be able to say ‘here are some measures you can take’.”
Mr Zahawi went on: “What we’re not doing is spending £14 million on a Government campaign.”