Powering on together this winter
Preparing for a power cut
If bad weather is on the way or we have let you know we need to turn off your power to carry out planned maintenance, follow our tips to prepare and stay safe.
If you or someone you know would benefit from extra support in a power cut – we strongly recommend registering for our FREE priority services.
Struggling with the cost of living and paying your bills?
We all want to keep warm and save money, that’s why we have partnered with Home Energy Scotland (HES) and Yes Energy Solutions (YES) to help you stay warm for less. They’ll support you in find ways to reduce your bills and identify eligibility of support you can receive.
Emergency power cuts
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on global energy markets mean the UK and Europe face a challenging winter. The energy industry is prepared and has well-established procedures in place if there is a national energy shortage.
One part of these procedures is planned emergency power cuts, called ‘rota disconnections’. These are very rare and temporary and National Grid have been clear this is a worst case scenario.
If needed, customers would lose power for around three hours per day during the emergency, on an area-by-area basis. This would ensure power supplies are shared fairly with customers, and everyone has power for most of the day.
You can find FAQs and find your rota block below.
Use our interactive map to find your rota block
Find my rota block
You may have seen talks of power cuts this winter due to lack of electricity capacity for the UK. Although a worst case scenario, you can find your rota block identifier using our ‘My Rota Block’ map.
Frequently asked questions
National Grid constantly monitor the required amount of electricity needed to be able to power homes and businesses across the UK, this is known as ‘Demand’. At the same time, they also manage the amount of electricity being generated. The amount of generated electricity needs to be more than the amount of electricity required (demand) to ensure there is a reliable electricity supply across the UK.
Although very 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 to equalize this difference before our customers would even notice the difference. Contingency plans are in place for backup power supply and notice can be issued to ask generators of electricity to provide more power too. If these steps all fail, which is extremely unlikely, the government will approve a special measure which enables the industry to make emergency power cuts to share the supply of electricity fairly across the UK and to protected sites where power is a necessity.
As part of a pre-prepared plan, customers across the country will have their electricity switched off in turn for part of each day. Across the country customers are divided into 18 ‘blocks’, each with an assigned ‘Block Letter’. The Emergency Power Cut Rota has been developed to share power between these blocks in a fair manner, whilst seeking to minimise the amount of power cuts. The Emergency Power Cut Rota will temporarily reduce electricity demand, protect the UK electricity system and avoid more extensive, unplanned power cuts. The rota will ensure that everyone has electricity for the majority of the day
The planned temporary power cuts will be shared across customers throughout England, Scotland and Wales. That way everyone has electricity for most of the day unless the emergency is particularly severe. The Emergency Power Cut rotas will be made available to the public online and through national and regional media outlets – as your network operator, we will also attempt to provide you with specific information by text, our website and social media. We will set out a draft rota for power cuts over subsequent days. So every day that the issue continues, we will issue an the next day’s rota in the early evening before – this will help you see when your power will be off, for how long and when it will come back on.
The whole country is split into areas based on postcodes and each is allocated a Block Letter which is linked to that area. An Emergency Power Cut Rota is published setting out which Block Letter(s) will have temporary power cuts and at what times. (Please note that each block letter has a number of areas allocated to it and these areas are spread across the country. This means that customers spread across the country are affected every time a rota block is disconnected.)
Although there is no need to know your block number right now, if you want to, you can obtain your Emergency Power Cut Block Letter by checking your electricity bill. Your Block Letter is displayed in a small square box on the top third of the front page. This letter is between A – R. If this event occurs, there will be tools available to help find more information using your postcode or using your block letter.
Customers who may be more vulnerable in a power cut can seek advice from us by calling 105. Many may already be on a Priority Service Register (PSR), if you are not on our priority services register, we suggest joining here. We will prioritise contact to our priority service customers, starting with the most vulnerable first. If you need specialist medical support during a power cut, you should also consider seeking medical advice from your local health service provider or by calling 111.
As part of the safety measures to protect your equipment, your home and the local electricity network, your own generation will not be able to export electricity to the wider electricity network at the times when you are have an emergency power as part of the rota.
Certain customers, who meet strict criteria, qualify to have their supplies ‘protected’, and will not experience disruptions however they have been instructed to reduce the amount of electricity they use to support the industry. These ‘protected customers’, who only make up a very small percentage of the total demand, generally provide essential services on which we depend, and have agreed in advance with the Distribution Network Operators, having satisfied strict criteria, that their supplies will be protected for as long as is feasible like hospitals and other emergency services. We work with emergency services, local authorities and government departments to establish what sites are ‘protected’.
One of the benefits of a rota means that you will have advanced notice of a power outage in this situation. This means you can prepare for the outage. Advice on how to prepare can be found here.
Specific advice will be provided during the situation through our communication channels and national media, however, basic steps to take include;
- Switch off all electrical appliances except fridges and freezers.
- Leave a light on so you know when power is restored.
- Check to see if your neighbours are OK.
- If the weather is cold, keep blankets and warm clothing near you
It completely depends on the extent of the issue. You will see large coverage in national news along with our own communication and will be issuing updates throughout to ensure you know what’s happening.