You may have heard in the news recently, of potential blackouts across the country in the winter months. The government has confirmed that blackouts are extremely unlikely, but here is what you need to know should there be any planned outages.
What happens if there is not enough power to go round?
· There are commercial arrangements in place between National Grid and power stations to provide a continuous reserve of electricity available to cater for shortages (planned and unplanned).
· In the unlikely event that these arrangements don’t provide adequate supplies, the Government may authorise energy restrictions, and the use of ‘Rota Load Disconnections’ (RLDs). The purpose of Rota Load Disconnections is to control/reduce the demand for electricity to the level that is available.
· This is achieved by dividing all user’s electricity into groups called ‘blocks’; a customer’s block is determined by their postcode and position on the local network. These blocks are then switched off resulting in interruption of supply to customers.
· Vital organisations (e.g. hospitals, airports), food processes and continuous processes (e.g. steelworks, glass producers) are excluded from the scheme.
How are rotas devised?
· Each distribution area across the UK is split into 18 blocks and assigned an alphabetic letter. Each day of the week is split into 8 three-hour slots, with the first starting at 6.30am.
· The blocks are allocated to the slots in such a way as to allow businesses in any given block to operate as normally as possible for 3 continuous days. This means that power cuts will either be concentrated between Monday and Wednesday, or Thursday and Saturday with Sunday being shared between all blocks. The more severe the emergency, the greater the number of blocks that will be switched off at the same time.
How will you know when you will be without electricity?
· In the event of RLDs becoming necessary, there are two pieces of information that you need to be aware of: your RLD block letter and the slots which show when you will be affected.
· You can find out your RLD block letter on your electricity bill, under your MPAN details. If you do not have this to hand, you can also find out your block letter by visiting Find my block letter? Call Free to Solve Electricity Issues (powercut105.com).
· Once you have your block letter, you then need to know when that letter will be switched off and on. The schedule of RLDs will be published online on the website above and provided through national and local tv and/or radio stations.
How often will I be switched off?
· The electricity will be turned off to certain areas (known as blocks) for 3 hours at a time depending on the shortage of electricity. This could be affected by the weather, the time of day and the demand for electricity.
· At the lowest level of emergency, you could expect to be without electricity for just three slots in a week.
· If there is a severe shortage of electricity, you may be without supply for several slots in a week.
How do I prepare for being without power?
· Find your block letter (and rota, when published) at www.powercut105.com
· Save the telephone number 105 to your phone contacts, which is the free national power cut emergency number
· If you’re planning on working through the blackouts, you might need to use an independently powered generator to keep things running
· If you intend to stay on site during the blackouts, make sure there is sufficient lighting and heating to ensure it’s safe enough to work in. Check the terms of your business insurance to make sure you’re covered should anything happen during a blackout.
· Make sure all alarm systems, including fire alarms, are working and check whether they will still work in the event of any loss of power. Keep in mind that they might be set off if they detect a loss in power
· If your business is dependent on a good Wi-Fi connection, we have a range of mobile solutions that could be used if there’s no power to the usual router you use, simply visit switchingon.com/business-mobile for more information
· Make sure your staff are aware of what they need to know about your business in the event of a power cut.