Liz Truss won’t rule out widespread power cuts hitting UK homes

GMB: Liz Truss is 'rolling back' on ruling out energy rationing

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Liz Truss is yet to rule out the chance of widespread power cuts of up to three hours a day this winter if the UK can’t import enough energy, while Downing Street has also blocked a £15million energy saving campaign. National Grid has warned households and businesses risk being cut off and in a worst-case scenario, this could include “load-shedding”, where power is restricted to different areas at different times to prevent uncontrolled outages. Millions of homeowners will be asked to use electrical appliances at night to help avoid potential disruption during peak times.

Households and businesses could also be given £10 a day to stop using electricity when needed as part of contingency plans currently being considered.

But the Prime Minister is yet to guarantee that blackouts won’t be required, only to go as far as saying that Britain would “get through the winter”.

She said: “I’m always looking for ways that we can improve the price for consumers.”

European Union member states are under huge pressure to moderate their energy use this winter amid potential continental blackouts and have agreed to slash gas usage by 10 percent and electricity by 15 percent.

Miguel Berger, Germany’s ambassador to London, appeared to suggest that Britain should also follow this lead.

He told the BBC: “Half of the French nuclear power plants are not functioning, and that means, and I think the United Kingdom is one of the electricity importers over winter, that there might be some electricity shortages.

“So, I think measures like, for example, reducing gas consumption, reducing electricity consumption, are very important signals which need to be given to the population.”

Ms Truss has previously said she would not be urging Britons to ration their energy use this winter, with Downing Street sources insisting the UK situation was “very different” to that of the EU.

But any plan to introduce rolling power blackouts, not used since the 1970s, would need the approval of both the Government and King Charles III.

Britain may be forced to import gas from continental Europe to meet demand if the country is hit by a particularly cold winter, but Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine poses a risk to these supplies.

The Prime Minister agreed to re-join an EU-backed energy deal between the bloc’s North Sea countries ahead of the winter and agreed to draw up plans with Emmanuel Macron for the UK and France to build more nuclear power stations.

Ms Truss has also been urged to launch public information campaigns to advise Britons to reduce their energy use by turning down their heating and taking showers instead of baths.

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But one such £15million campaign, backed by Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, has been rejected by Downing Street, which has argued the information was already available, according to The Times

He signed off plans for the multi-million-pound campaign, which would have included TV and newspaper adverts asking people to turn off radiators in empty rooms and switch off the heating before going out.

The plan to turn down thermostats appeared to be one of the biggest issues and they were drooped after health officials became concerned that elderly people may get dangerously cold, while Ms Truss is believed to have thought it would have been too “interventionalist”. 

Other advice, such as turning off the lights or electrical appliances, were dismissed over their negligible impact on the power grid.

A Government spokesman said: “The UK has a secure and diverse energy system. We have plans to protect households and businesses in the full range of scenarios this winter, in light of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

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

“We will continue to work internationally on tackling rising energy prices and ensuring the security of supply, but there are no current plans to follow the EU’s decision.

“However, Ministers are not launching a public information campaign and any claim otherwise is untrue.”

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