The Grid says there should be enough reserve electricity to get through the coldest months, but this is at its lowest level in five years – and could get even lower
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The risk of power cuts this winter is rising, the National Grid warned, as energy reserves are lower than usual.
The Grid predicts it will have enough reserve electricity this winter to meet 6.6% of demand, its lowest figure for five years.
This is partly because a power cable caught fire supplying energy from France, which won’t be fixed until March.
It is also because of two nuclear power plants going offline.
Winter electricity reserves could fall to as low as 4.2%, according to the ‘key margin figure’ published by the Grid’s Electricity Systems Operator (ESO).
However, the Grid said it was confident severe power shortages could be averted.
ESO executive director Fintan Slye said: “The winter outlook confirms that we expect to have sufficient capacity and the tools needed to meet demand this winter.
“Margins are well within the reliability standard and therefore we are confident that there will be enough capacity available to keep Britain’s lights on.”
The ESO said it expected to issue a “normal” number of ‘margin notices’ – calls for energy providers to increase their supply due to increased demand.
It thinks it is most likely to issue these in December.
British homes are currently paying high prices for energy due to the soaring cost of gas – which currently costs five times its normal amount.
Consumer expert Martin Lewis says consumers who want cheaper energy deals shouldn’t shop around like normal- but should “do nothing” instead .
Speaking live on the ITV Money Show on Thursday, Lewis said the best thing to do is pick deals that match their energy providers’ price cap – or wait until they fall onto one when their current deal ends.
This cap limits the amount firms can charge the average customer on their default gas and electricity tariffs – usually variable-rate deals.
In the past, the cheapest energy deals were normally fixed rate deals , not variable rate ones – which many consumers ended up on by default when their contract expired.
But now the rising cost of energy has turned normal advice on its head, Lewis said.
Rather than look around for the cheapest energy tariffs, almost everyone is better off ending up on their energy provider’s variable rate deal.
British homes are currently paying high prices for energy due to the soaring cost of gas – which Lewis says currently costs five times its normal amount.
But providers can’t pass all of that cost on to consumers due to the cap. Since October 1 this has been £1,277 a year for normal energy use.
“There is no maximum limit on how much you can pay,” Lewis warned. “If you use more, you pay more.”
This has led to many energy providers stopping trading .
The price cap of £1,277 is due to rise to £1,660 next April, Lewis warned.
“The latest estimate is that on April 1 the price cap will rise by 30% based on the current run rate, to £1,660 a year on typical use,” he said. “That means around a £500 increase compared to a year before.
“A year ago you could lock in, on typical use, for around £800 a year. If you come off that deal now you go automatically to the price cap at £1,277, a 50% cost increase.”