Government announces investigation into major power cuts

The government has announced and set out the scope of a review into the actions of the National Grid after last Friday’s power cuts.

Power disruption resulted from the operation of Low Frequency Demand Disconnection relays on the UK’s power system at about 4.54pm last Friday (9 August). It impacted hundreds of thousands of customers, and caused significant secondary impacts in particular to the transport network. Though demand was fully restored within 90 minutes, the secondary impacts continued to be felt for much of the day.

National Grid has already said the power cuts had “nothing to do with changes in wind speed or the variability of wind,” but the government’s Energy Emergencies Executive Committee will establish what happened to cause the outage and if correct procedures were followed. It will also consider whether improvements are needed to prevent future power cuts and better respond if they do occur, including minimising impacts on people and essential services.

The government says the review will complement the investigation being undertaken by energy regulator Ofgem into how the electricity operator responded in line with its licence conditions and system security standards. It will advise if any further actions need to be taken.

Business secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “Friday’s power outages caused significant chaos and disruption to hundreds of thousands of people. National Grid is urgently reviewing what happened and will shortly report to Ofgem to consider what action may need to be taken. National Grid has already confirmed that the incident was not linked to the variability of wind power, a clean, renewable energy source that the government is investing in as we work towards becoming a net zero emissions economy by 2050. Friday’s incident does however demonstrate the need to have a diverse energy mix. I have formally commissioned the government’s Energy Emergencies Executive Committee to review the emergency response and recovery procedures for our energy system.”

The Energy Emergencies Executive Committee is a partnership between government, the regulator and industry which co-ordinates resilience planning across the energy industry. It ensures a joined-up approach to emergency response and recovery, identifying risks and processes to manage the impact of emergencies affecting the supply of gas and/or electricity to consumers in Great Britain.

The committee will provide a report on initial findings within five weeks to the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy. It will then submit a comprehensive report within 12 weeks.

Click here to read the full terms of reference for the scope of the review.




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