This is how planned emergency blackouts would work if used this winter
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Energy blackouts is the last thing we need on our 2022 bingo cards, but at the very least we can be prepared.
This week, the chief executive of the National Grid warned that UK households could face planned emergency blackouts during the depths of winter due to energy shortages.
Although these measures aren't set in stone (as of yet), what we do know is that Europe is facing insufficient natural gas supply due to Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine.
If the UK can't secure enough gas for the colder months when people are typically using more energy, then it's going to mean blackouts.
But what exactly do they entail?
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) was on hand to explain, pointing out that it's first important to understand that before any planned cuts are carried out, the National Grid ESO takes a number of steps to prevent it from happening.
These include encouraging additional energy generation through the supply market, requesting heavy industrial users to limit demand during peak times and encouraging domestic users to reduce their usage through incentives.
But with bills jumping up by literally hundreds of pounds over the past year, it's safe to say many of us are doing the latter already.
And if the UK is still left without enough power, the cuts will be administered to manage overall demand.
According to the ENA: "If an emergency power cut is implemented, customers in certain parts of the country would typically be without power for around three hours per day during the emergency.
"Distribution network operators, which run the local power networks, would be legally instructed by National Grid ESO, which controls the flow of energy around the country, to disconnect power supplies using established procedures.
"These procedures are set out by the government in a document known as the Electricity Supply Emergency Code, sometimes referred to as ESEC.
"The procedures ensure that power is shared fairly across all customers during a national energy emergency."
There are, of course, exemptions from emergency planned blackouts, which are simulated every year by the energy sector in preparation for winter.
Sites that wouldn't be cut off are those which are critical to the country's infrastructure such as air traffic control centres and major hospital facilities with accident and emergency departments.
As for people who are medically supported by electrical devices, the ENA states that they would typically be aware of the limitations that arise during blackouts and often have backup power sources.
In these cases, it's vital for people to seek advice from their local health service provider to ensure they're protected during these times.
As said, this is only a worst case scenario – but then again, so was paying £2,500 per year for energy bills a couple of years back and look where we are now.