Ministers rule out energy-saving campaign despite possible blackout warning

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iz Truss ruled out the launch of a public information campaign on energy saving as planned warnings could hit the UK if power stations cannot get enough gas to keep running.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is believed to have backed a £15million campaign this winter, with The Times reporting the idea was blocked by No 10.

He added the campaign was seen as a ‘light touch’ and included measures designed to help people save up to £300 a year, including lowering boiler temperatures, switching off radiators in empty rooms and advising people to turn off the heating when they leave. out.

The newspaper quoted a government source describing the campaign as ‘no-brainer’ and said No 10 had made a ‘stupid decision’, but added that Ms Truss would be ‘ideologically opposed’ to such an approach because it could be too much. interventionist.

A government source approached by the PA news agency said they did not deny the report in The Times.

Asked to comment on the report, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy issued a statement on behalf of the government in which it insisted that ministers are not launching a campaign and that “any claims to the contrary is false”.

Prime Minister Ms Truss has previously sought to play down concerns, although she has not explicitly offered a guarantee of no power cuts.

His remarks came in response to a report from the body that oversees Britain’s power grid.

In what it called an “unlikely” scenario, the National Electricity Grid Operator (ESO) said households and businesses could face planned three-hour outages to ensure the grid does not fail. don’t collapse.

A government spokesperson said: ‘The UK has a secure and diverse energy system.

“We have plans to protect households and businesses across the full range of scenarios this winter, in light of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

“To further strengthen this position, we have plans in place to secure supply and National Grid, together with energy suppliers and Ofgem, will launch a voluntary service to reward users who reduce demand at peak times. .

“We will continue to work internationally to tackle rising energy prices and ensure security of supply, but there are currently no plans to follow the EU decision.

“However, ministers are not launching a public information campaign and any claim to the contrary is false.”

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

There have also been major unplanned outages during storms, most notably in 1987 when over 1.5 million people were left in the dark.

But the lights will stay on this winter unless the gas-fired power stations that produced 43% of Britain’s electricity in the last year can get enough gas to keep running.

It’s the most dire of three possible scenarios the ESO outlined on Thursday of how Britain’s power grid could cope with the worst global energy crisis in decades.

In the other two scenarios, the operator hopes that by paying people to charge their electric cars at off-peak times and by turning on backup coal-fired power plants, it can offset the risk of blackouts.

Ms Truss, pressed to ensure there will be no power cuts, told reporters during a visit to the Czech Republic: ‘What we are clear on is that we have a good supply of energy in the UK we are in a much better position than many other countries, but of course we can always do more, and that is why I am working here with our partners, ensuring that we have a secure energy supply in the future.

Ms Truss added: ‘We have good energy supplies in the UK, we can get through the winter, but of course I’m always looking for ways to improve the price for consumers.

“That’s why we put in place the energy price guarantee and we make sure we have as much supply as possible.”

Today’s National Grid report shows our vulnerability as a country is a direct result of a decade of failed Conservative energy policy

Ms Truss has previously said she would not tell people to ration their energy use this winter as Russian President Vladimir Putin is limiting gas supplies to Europe in retaliation for war-related sanctions in Ukraine.

During the Conservative Party leadership race, Ms Truss also said there would be no energy rationing.

It has since offered a multi-billion pound price guarantee that will prevent average annual household bills from rising above £2,500.

For Labour, shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said: ‘Today’s National Grid report shows our vulnerability as a country as a direct consequence of a decade of failed Conservative energy policy.’

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has called on the government to convene the Cobra emergency committee to deal with the possibility of blackouts.

He said: ‘If we don’t act now, millions of people could be plunged into blackouts while gasoline and heating oil prices soar even further.’

The margins between peak demand and electricity supply should be sufficient and similar to those of recent years in the National Grid ESO base case for this winter.

But faced with the ‘difficult’ winter facing European energy supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the grid operator also predicts what would happen if there were no imports electricity from Europe.

To cope with a loss of imports from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, two gigawatts of coal-fired power plants are on standby to turn on if needed to meet demand.

National Grid Gas Transmission has said separately that while demand for gas will increase this winter, it expects Britain to be able to secure enough gas to weather a ‘beast from the east’ scenario. or a long, cold winter.

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