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Households to pay more to avoid winter blackouts

Households to pay more to avoid winter blackouts

Increasing pressure on UK energy networks means extra help needed to ensure the lights stay on.

Reena Sewraz

Household money

Reena Sewraz
Updated on 15 July 2015

The National Grid has revealed the UK faces more pressure on its energy network than last year, and has taken measures to avoid blackouts this winter.

According to the National Grid, last year’s mild weather led to low energy demands, while windy conditions and high levels of electricity imports provided an adequate capacity for electricity.

But the gas and electricity system operator warned this winter margins will be tighter, due to the closure of power stations.

This means more will be needed to balance the system to ensure the lights stay on, with the result being that 50p will likely be added onto the average UK household energy bill.

Additional services

National Grid says it’s already bought 2.56 GW of ‘additional balancing services’ to cope with demand on the electricity network this winter. These services are from generators and major energy users that are willing to reduce their energy consumption at critical times. Big firms like Centrica and SSE will be paid to keep their power plants on standby, should they need to be called on.

The additional power combined with available generation means the UK has spare energy capacity of 5.1% this winter. 

National Grid said gas supplies are expected to be sufficient to meet demand. 

What will happen to my bill?

National Grid is responsible for fine tuning the network that supplies gas and electricity to homes, but it’s up to energy suppliers to decide what households will pay.

Right now it’s not clear if energy providers will pass on the costs to customers straight away.

[SPOTLIGHT]British Gas has announced it's cutting standard gas prices by 5% from 27th August, providing a £72 saving on the average annual bill. It also announced it will be freezing standard electricity costs despite ‘several elements which make up the bill rising’.

The firm says it continues to offer the cheapest standard electricity prices of all the large suppliers in 12 out of 14 regions across the country.

Energy giants tend to respond to price cuts with reductions of their own, so don't be surprised to see the likes of EDF and Npower announce gas price cuts too.

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