UK Cabinet Minister Nadhim Zahawi says winter power cuts 'extremely unlikely'

Electricity grid operator has said planned three-hour cuts may be needed if gas flows drop

Electricity pylons in Lydd, Kent, England. The UK does not expect to carry out planned power cuts this winter. PA
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The UK government's plans for three-hour winter power cuts are "extremely unlikely" to be necessary, Cabinet Minister Nadhim Zahawi says.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said it was “only right that we plan for every scenario”, before ruling out a £14 million ($15.5m) campaign advising people about how to conserve energy.

The national Electricity System Operator, which oversees Britain’s electricity grid, has said households and businesses could face planned three-hour power cuts to ensure the grid does not collapse.

But it said would only happen if power plants did not receive enough gas to continue running.

Planned power cuts hit the UK during the 1970s in response to the miners’ strikes and the oil crisis.

There have also been major unplanned cuts during storms, including in 1987 when more than 1.5 million people were left in the dark.

“We’ve got the second largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) processing infrastructure in Europe," Mr Zahawi told Sky News.

“Half of our gas, we produce here at home. We want to go further – this year we’ve increased our output by 26 per cent 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.”

UK Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is said to have backed plans for a government-led campaign to advise people on ways to conserve energy.

“What the national grid is doing with Ofgem [the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets] is also having a communication programme to tell people how they can do better," he said.

Countries across Europe are drawing up winter contingency plans against the disruption of gas flows from Russia because of the war in Ukraine, which could lead to rationing and a curb in energy exports.

Updated: October 09, 2022, 4:59 PM