Emergency power cuts are used in response to a National Energy Emergency at times of a severe shortage of electricity production (generation) in the UK.
National Grid have the responsibility of balancing the energy market in mainland UK, ensuring that there is always enough generated to meet customer demand.
In the event of a severe shortage of electricity National Grid and network companies across the UK would implement an emergency power cut plan only when instructed to do so by the Secretary of State, and would continue to carry out emergency power cuts until the instruction is lifted. It is not the decision of the network operators to carry this out, but all must comply with the instruction.
How is this Achieved?
All users of electricity are currently classified in groups called ‘blocks’. A customer's block is determined by their postcode and position on the local network.
These blocks are then switched off in turn, on a ‘rota’, for a period of three hours. If the level of electricity shortfall increases, more blocks are switched off resulting in interruption to a larger number of customers. Once introduced, Emergency Power Cuts will continue for the full duration of the shortfall in electricity generation as instructed by the Government.
There are government guidelines which allow very few essential organisations to remain on supply during emergency power cuts.
If, in the unlikely event an emergency power cut becomes necessary, a range of communications methods will be available to let you know what rota block you are part of and the periods your supply will be affected.