With so much uncertainty currently when it comes to energy, it’s perhaps not surprising that National Grid is sharing information to help the country prepare for potential shortages and energy rationing over the coming winter months.

Although a supply emergency is extremely unlikely, it’s still important to understand what could happen if your business’s gas or electricity supply needs to be interrupted. And also, how to check if you have priority status if your operations are critical.

Protocol for gas interruptions

When it comes to gas, if there is an actual or potential drop in pressure in the gas network – caused, for example, by a shortage of gas or damage to pipelines – some large consumers may be asked to switch off their gas supply for a period of time. This could impact sites consuming an annual quantity (AQ) in excess of 732 MWh.

Your organisation may be exempt if any loss of gas could cause damage to plant and equipment, or if your site is a key public service such as a hospital. In this case, ‘Priority Consumer’ status should ensure your gas supply continues.

You can check with us to find out if your site has priority status. The qualifying criteria is also due to be updated from January 2023, so if you’d like to understand more about this, please refer to our FAQs here

However, it’s important to note that even priority status doesn’t guarantee supply if doing so would result in loss of supply to domestic customers.

Check emergency contact details are up to date

For all customers, any instruction to interrupt/switch off your gas supply will come from your local Gas Transporter (if you’re unsure who this might be, you can check here).

Contact will be made by telephone to one of your nominated emergency contacts, so it’s important to ensure these contact details are up to date (speak to your Client Lead or Account Manager if you want to check).

When asked to do so, your business must then cease any activities that require gas consumption (although continuing use for pilot lights or maintaining machinery in standby is permitted). You will then be advised when you can resume consumption, again by telephone.

Knock-on effect on power supplies

Potential gas shortages can also impact electricity supply, as gas is used for some forms of power generation. There could therefore potentially be restrictions on electricity use over the winter.

In the, again, unlikely event this occurs, National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), the government and the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) will decide on the best course of action and implement it within 48-hours.

This action will likely be a combination of:
Restriction on industrial and commercial consumption: either by a certain percentage or restricting use to certain days of the week
Public appeals: asking domestic consumers and businesses to reduce consumption
A rota of disconnection: designed to ensure power supplies are equitably shared among all non-protected sites

Disconnections by rota

If disconnections by rota are implemented, your DNO will share the power it has in the local network between consumers using a system of ‘load blocks’.

The aim is to make power available at specific times to all users in the most efficient way. Each block of power is assigned an alpha character/letter.

You should be able to locate your block letter next to your supply number on your latest energy invoice. If this is missing, please check this website – or contact us. Your letter will then correspond with the timetables issued by the Electricity Supply Emergency Code.

As with gas, if your organisation cannot do without power, you should have ‘protected’ status. If you want to check this, contact you DNO.

For more information, you can access our FAQs here. Or speak to your Client Lead or Account Manager.

Related Content