Millions of people in Britain could be asked to limit energy use this winter in order to head off blackouts.
Households would be told to avoid using gas and electricity at peak times and to turn off the lights on days when the wind doesn’t blow, according to Kathryn Porter from consultancy Watt-Logic,
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The energy expert said it was possible households could be asked not to use energy guzzling appliances at peak hours or to even to eat their dinner at a different time.
The Mail Online reports: In the US tens of millions of people have been asked not to use washing machines, dishwashers and ovens between 2pm and 8pm because of the global energy crisis. Charging cars before 9pm is also not advised.
Away from the home, in Germany, street lights are being dimmed, traffic lights at quieter junctions are turned off, hot water and central heating is off in public buildings, monuments will no longer be lit overnight, lighting monuments overnight.
Ms Porter has said that it’s ‘very possible’ the UK will see plans for energy rationing, despite Liz Truss absolutely ruling it out.
She told BBC’s World at One: ‘Unfortunately, as each winter goes by, the risk of blackouts is increasing because we have been replacing thermal and nuclear generation with intermittent renewables. That makes us vulnerable in times when wind output is low.
‘We have had quite low wind output in July and August…Demand is a lot higher in the winter, so if we have those weather conditions in the winter, our system is going to get very tight and that raises a risk of blackouts.’
With similar schemes in California and Texas – Ms Porter expects that authorities could ask consumers to reduce their use of electricity during peak hours – although in the US all these schemes are not enforced in law.
‘It is possible we will see something similar here this winter,’ she said, adding: ‘I think it would be more an appeal or request for people to have their dinner earlier or later, or avoid using large appliances like washing machines during peak hours. I think it would be voluntary rather than compulsory’.
Meanwhile, Stephen Fitzpatrick, the boss of Ovo Energy, has proposed a plan to protect poorer households against a ‘winter like never before’.
Essentially, the tariffs for homes using a small amount of gas and electricity would be frozen at the current level, but the charge per unit would rise sharply once usage rises above a set threshold. This means heavy power users – typically wealthy families in big homes – would pay more for heat and light than poorer households.
She continued: ‘I don’t think it would be “you’re not allowed to” because there’s no real way of policing that. I think it would just be more of an appeal.’
However, on the topic of potential Prime Minister candidate Liz Truss, who at last night’s hustings ‘ruled out’ energy rationing said she is ‘in no position to do so’.
She said: ‘Liz Truss isn’t in a position to say there won’t be any rationing. If there’s not enough generation to meet demand then either you have rationing or you have blackouts.
‘The problem with blackouts is that they affect everybody and clearly there’s a hope that important infrastructures such as hospitals will have backup generators on site they can use and it’s important they test those facilities just in case they are needed in winter.
‘But I don’t think National Grid is going to sit there and just allow blackouts to happen because Liz Truss says she doesn’t want rationing. We will have rationing before we have blackouts.’
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