National Grid: Blackouts would be last resort

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Hard times ahead: Blackouts would be last resort (Getty/ IanGoodPhotography)
Hard times ahead: Blackouts would be last resort (Getty/ IanGoodPhotography)

Related tags Social responsibility Health and safety Finance

Blackouts would be a last resort this winter if energy supplies run low, National Grid has revealed, after operators voiced concerns they would damage the sector.

National Grid boss John Pettigrew told the BBC ​its “base case” assumption was the UK would have enough supplies to meet heating and lighting demand this winter. However, he said short rolling power cuts were a possibility. 

“There could be energy shortfalls in the UK and we will manage that carefully,” Pettigrew said. “This isn’t a time for people to panic. 
"Most importantly what we're doing is making sure that the infrastructure we have, the networks are robust and ready for the winter, and I've got thousands of engineers making sure the network is ready for whatever weather we see over the winter." 

This comes after The Morning Advertiser​ revealed blackouts would put bars and breweries in a position they “will not be able to cover from” as some operators felt the Government had imposed a “war of attrition” against the sector. 

Owner of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield stated if blackouts were to be implemented this winter, it would be a “plague” for everyone. 

He said: “[The Government] won't give a thought to the nuances of the hospitality industry, it will be a plague on everyone's house by rota, not by sector."

Difficult times

He continued: “If the three hours comes at a critical time, namely lunch or dinner, then after the slings and arrows of lockdown, of voluntary closures due to Covid, the further bombardment of energy, inflation, the assaults of our food inflation, it's just yet another crisis we're going have to deal with slowly. 

“It feels like there's a war of attrition against hospitality, as soon as you get over one thing, and you think you'll come out the other side, then it gets worse and not better.” 

Additionally, Padfield explained​ blackouts would prevent hospitality businesses from operating, causing a decrease in consumers’ confidence and making them “think twice before going out”. 

National Grid was working on a number of scenarios to protect the country against any energy supply shortfall from Europe, according to Pettigrew. The first option would be to increase supply be restarting coal-fired power stations, and the next option would be to pay households and businesses to reduce consumption during peak times. Short rolling regional outages would be a last resort. 

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Like their customers, pubs and breweries rely on a sustained, guaranteed energy supply. 

“It is essential they are able to provide welcoming spaces and keep production lines running. 

“Publicans and brewers have already been facing uncertainty for some time as we emerged from the pandemic into a cost of doing business crisis and have tried to remain resilient. 

“Many have taken measures to ensure they can keep trading, from reducing opening hours to changing menu options, but blackouts could result in a tremendous loss of stock that businesses simply will not be able to recover. 

Further strain

“This news will add further strain to businesses at an already critically difficult time.” 

What’s more, licensee of the Riverside​ at Aymestrey, near Leominster, which was recently crowned the Great British Pub Awards (GBPA) 2022 Best Sustainable Pub, Andy Link, said the blackouts would be “extremely challenging” for pubs, especially as they are typically the centre of a lot of communities.  

He said: “The pub is a centre of a lot of communities, if we can be there to support people, have the fires going, have some kind of basic offering with the equipment we potentially could use without any power. 

“We're in two minds; do we shut our doors and potentially lose more money? We’ll have no power but we still have salaried staff that need paying. 

“I know they're saying it's very unlikely, but we've had that before, so we're planning for both scenarios”. 

Related topics Legislation

Related news

Show more