We're here to help you this winter
Earlier in the winter, the Electricity System Operator, National Grid ESO’s, published their Winter Outlook report, which raised the remote prospect of planned emergency power cuts to manage potentially reduced energy supplies from Europe this winter. National Grid ESO is the electricity system operator for Great Britain and are responsible for the management of the GB electricity grid, ensuring there is enough electricity to be distributed across the country.
As one of the six Distribution Network Operator (DNOs) in Great Britain, it is our role to operate under instruction from National Grid ESO to conduct emergency disconnections if they are required. We would like to take the opportunity to reassure you that the industry has robust plans in place and stress these options would be taken as a last resort, when all other measures to balance electricity supply and demand have been exhausted.
You may have seen recent media coverage on this issue, and we fully appreciate that this may be concerning for you. While these outages remain an unlikely scenario, we want to ensure that our customers are prepared and can minimise the disruption they may experience. The intention of this page is to provide you with key points to consider in advance of any planned emergency, including your Rota Block identifier which will be used in the communication of the location of potential planned power interruptions.
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Emergency planning portal
Although emergencies are rare, it's important to prepare for them and ensure you're resilient against unexpected things that can happen, especially over the winter period when power cuts are more likely. Our Emergency Planning Portal has lots of resources and information to help you prepare.
Frequently asked questions
National Grid ESO constantly monitors the required amount of electricity needed to be able to power homes and businesses across Great Britain, this is known as ‘demand’. At the same time, it also manages the amount of electricity being generated. The amount of generated electricity needs to exceed the amount of electricity demand to ensure there is a reliable electricity supply available across the country. Although rare, there are sometimes occasions when the demand for electricity is higher than the amount of electricity being generated. When this happens, there are several steps the industry takes to balance the difference to keep power flowing across the country. Contingency plans are in place for backup power supply and notice can be issued to ask electricity generators to provide more power. If these steps fail, which is unlikely, local network operators, which is Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks in your case, would be instructed to implement a emergency or planned power cuts to share the supply of electricity across the UK.
The war in Ukraine has led to a European crisis on energy supplies. Although Britain is less reliant on Russian gas than other countries, it normally imports gas and electricity from Europe during the coldest months. In its Winter Outlook publication, National Grid ESO outlined a worst-case scenario which stated that if there were to be a very cold period with significantly reduced gas supplies from Europe impacting the generation of electricity there is a greater potential for emergency customer disconnections to be necessary. It has stressed this remains an unlikely scenario.
Based on the specific situation, there are two instructions we may receive from the Electricity System Operator, one where we receive planned notification the evening before and can notify customers in advance, and the other, an emergency instruction where we are required to disconnect customers under a short timeframe which may be immediate.
Planned Rota Disconnections Emergency Disconnections What does this mean? This means that National Grid ESO have given us advanced notice that power outages will be needed. This means that National Grid were unable to predict the need of power outages and therefore ask us to do so with little notice. Duration of outages These outages will last around three hours set through a pre-defined and established rota. This would be determined by National Grid ESO due to the nature of the requirement to immediately balance the system and prevent further disruption. This could be shorter or longer than three hours Notice period we receive We will receive notification at 5.30pm the evening before the planned interruption.
There is no set notice period. Although advanced notice will be provided wherever possible.
How we will tell you We will notify you by text message by 6pm the day before, stating the start and end time of the interruption. Information will also be available on powercut105.com, our website and our PowerTrack app. We would notify you by text message as soon as is practically possible. Note that this may be after the start of the interruption. We suggest you update your mobile number with your electricity supplier, this is who you pay your bills to, so we have the correct information
Each electricity meter is assigned an alphabetical ‘block letter’. In the event of an emergency power cut, different block letters are timetabled to be without power for a three-hour period. Depending on the severity of the situation, power may be interrupted multiple times over the period of the event which may last several days. You can also find your rota block and see what areas are affected around you at myrotablock.ssen.co.uk.
If a planned rota disconnection is initiated, a timetable will be available at powercut105.com and on our website ssen.co.uk. The timetable will tell you when you will be without power, and when there is a risk, you may be without power. Your power might be switched off or reconnected around 30 minutes before or after the published time depending on national electricity use at that time. This is because of the need to phase disconnections and reconnections, creating a short overlap.
As stated above, this is a worst-case scenario, and it is likely National Grid ESO will not need to implement planned power cuts this winter. However, if they do, a robust plan has been established to minimise the length of time you would be without power - typically around three hours at a time. You do not need to do anything - the power will be turned off and back on automatically.
We have plans in place to be able to communicate to our customers quickly if this situation evolves. If you have provided us with a mobile phone number, you’ll receive a text message from us and we'll provide as much notice as possible. You'll also hear about it on the news and announcements from National Grid ESO and Government, where advice will also be provided.
A very limited number of sites are protected from emergency power cuts. These are typically locations which are deemed to be critical national infrastructure, such as air traffic control centres and major hospital facilities with accident and emergency departments. Domestic properties are not eligible for this as there is a very specific set of requirements which include providing national or regional critical services.
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