Lights will stay on, vow ministers amid grid fears

Ofgem warned spare capacity in system could drop to just 2 per cent by 2015

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The Independent Online

Households face no risk of power failures even if there is a national shortage of electricity, the Government has said as it moves to quash press speculation about blackouts.

Responding to a report by energy regulator Ofgem warning that spare capacity in the system could drop to just 2 per cent by 2015, ministers said contingency measures would mean only large businesses might be affected.

The Government said that the Energy Minister Michael Fallon backed a National Grid consultation that could see big businesses paid to cut their energy usage in times of shortage.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said Mr Fallon was “fully behind Ofgem and National Grid’s consultations which are about whether they should take the prudent step of extending existing services in the context of possible tightening in the supply margin in the middle of the decade”.

It added: “One option, if the need arose, would be for companies to voluntarily enter into agreements to fire up currently mothballed power stations or for large users to reduce their demand, in return for which they would receive payment. This is an extension of what already happens in the power market. There is no compulsion and it is not rationing.

“We are confident that, with Ofgem and National Grid having all the tools at their disposal, the lights will stay on.”