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Getting your message straight

From the beginning of Ed Davey's speech

If businesses don’t have confidence in the security of energy supply, their costs go up.

Higher insurance premiums, expensive back-up systems.

From the end of Ed Davey's speech

Demand Side Balancing Reserve will not force any single business or household to switch off or reduce their electricity.

It is entirely voluntary. Nobody will get cut off. No economic activity will be curtailed.

This is about rewarding volunteer businesses. With the flexibility to reduce their use of National Grid supplied electricity. At peak times only. If called upon.

By changing a shift pattern maybe. Or switching to on-site generation rather than relying on the Grid.

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Reader Comments (55)

well, the lunatics have definitely taken over the asylum.

Businesses are to be paid not to work.

I suppose, after 30 odd years of the Common Agricultural Policy we should be used to this idea. But really? In Ed Davey's world a ball bearing manufacturer will be paid not to make ball bearings. An Internet server could make more money turning off their Internet servers than providing this service.


Jun 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

These are really desperate measures we must be in a right mess, but still nobody's doing anything about it. I unsuccessfully tried to find out who had advised Baroness Worthington on the engineering feasibility of the 2008 CCA, unsuccessful because she didn't apparently need advice. I then asked who was responsible for energy strategy and was told it was a matter for private industry. So with no one seemingly in charge and clueless politicians in charge we've taken only six years to get into crisis mode.

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"volunteer businesses"

I seem to remember volunteers being shafted by events outside the government's control a hundred years ago...

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:03 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"Smart" grid? Ha! How about "Let us turn off your machines without your knowledge or consent" grid.

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

There will be a reaction - from voters - when they finally learn the meaning of this flannel.

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I still think that there is an over reaction to these proposals. This is just an extension of previous schemes that have been run and it's all about organising work load.

In order to benefit a business just has to reorganise it's routine to make sure that it's daily energy cycle is lowest at the time of peak demand which is forecast days in advance. Those who can't just don't join the scheme, no penalties or fines. It's simple logical and it seems that existing schemes have only had a response that balances 1% of load so the grid is upping it's offer to try and beat America's 7% of load.

What is more appalling is Ed Davies jumping on the band wagon expecting us to believe that this is all down to the government and it's green credentials, utter bullshit.

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Oops, Davey's rather than Davies

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I predict that England will lose a penalty shoot out in the quarter finals (possibly semis) against West Germany. Again...

The question I have is this: Will Scotland's grid produce enough power to cope with us all watching England lose again?

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I know it's middle of winter but we are going to be flexible and work through the night, so you can all go home, put the heating on, make a cup of tea and waste a days worth of petrol travelling back and fro in the evening.

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterson of mulder

It will be "voluntary" until it becomes "necessary", when it will also be "too late to do anything else."

Al Gore had the right analogy about boiling frogs - he just re-directed it to create fear - it is really about what the eco-left want to do to the populace.

Jun 10, 2014 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterrxc

My first real job was in a factory that produced nylon. The machines were six stores high. They took in raw material on the top and produced finished nylon would on giant bobbins at the bottom. The process was very delicate and required very precise control of temperature and speed at all times. Even a slight power loss could disrupt the process and would require a 48 hour period to recover during which time very large quantities of waste would be produced. This is the type of business that requires a very stable and reliable grid.

On the other hand, there are other businesses in which short term power losses are inconsequential. A large freezer could be taken off line for significant periods without disrupting the process, for example. So such companies could perform an economic calculation and determine that it would be profitable for them to accept the possibility of power loss during peak periods for a payment from the gird operator. Everybody wins. Th grid operator does not have to build capacity that has no real economic justification and the participating companies are compensated for any disruption resulting for load management.

I know that here in Canada that this has been a long time practice. Companies can choose to purchase electricity at lower rates if they agree to accept being disconnected from the grid at times. it seems to me to be a very sensibleengineering and economic practice.

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTAG

It is common practice here in Canada for some businesses to choose to purchase electricity at a lower rate with the agreement to be disconnected from the gird if necessary. I'm very uch a layman at this but this seems to me to be a very sensible arrangement for peak load and fault management.

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterTAG

".....By changing a shift pattern maybe..." also leads to...

"..Higher insurance premiums, expensive back-up systems" + shift allowance.

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

ok Tom - message received

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

This is how the BBC reports it

National Grid is offering to pay companies to cut their electricity use in winter to prevent blackouts.

The firm, which runs Britain's supply network, is seeking customers who can cut consumption or switch to backup services during peak demand.

Demand is at its highest between 16:00 and 20:00 on winter weekdays, said National Grid.

The UK is facing a reduction in electricity generation as old plants shut and new ones are slow to start up.

Companies that agree to cut their use will receive a payment, National Grid said.

"It's our job as electricity system operator to make sure we've got all the right tools at our disposal to balance supply and demand on the electricity network, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year," said Peter Bingham, senior manager of National Grid's electricity market reform project.

Britain's energy regulator Ofgem, which gave the green light for National Grid's new balancing tools a few months ago, said it was confident the network operator would be able to keep households' lights on this winter.

National Grid is looking to save up to 330 megawatts (MW) of power demand capacity this winter.

See National Grid offers companies cash to cut power use. That would be our cash. 330MW is about 0.5% of peak demand - not a lot of benefit when the margin is down to less than 2%.

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Isn't there a reason for peak energy demand being just that? It's when everyone (especially industry) needs it!

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

does anyone know how its done in Canada ?

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

Yeah... try getting an off peak economy tariff for your leccy ! what a performance.

One has to assume that much of what pours forth from this wantwit is written for him by his officials and that any criticism of Davy applies in spades to DECC civil servants - who actually have a legal duty to be objective - really -> it's time to reel in this stupidity.

Jun 10, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Registered Commentertomo

So to summarise:

Government, influenced by the Climate Alarmists, have meddled in the generating industry and messed it up to such an extent they are having to use mine and your money to compensate industry when the lights start going out.

When will they learn. Solve today's problems today. The rate of technological advancement means you have no idea where you will be in 50 years time.

Jun 10, 2014 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Power cuts Winter 2014-15, just before the election........
Of course the grid will be in a worse state by the time a possible Millipede government takes over.
What this will do is show finally what a load of bull the DECC have been spinning since 2008, under er, oh yes!
Under the original direction of Millipede.
Now you don't have to be the brightest button in the box to figure out the DECC is a corrupted incompetent organisation do you?

Jun 10, 2014 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterc777

I posted this at WUWT on a different thread,

richard verney says:
June 10, 2014 at 7:40 am

Jim Cripwell says:
June 10, 2014 at 6:29 am

I keep hoping that a politician who matters is going to WANT to believe that CAGW is a hoax.
I think that the Czech Prime Minister (or former prime minister) is the most sceptic of the world leaders. Of course, he heads only a small country.

The UK has a carbon tax. It is far higher than the European equivalent, and it is set to escalate rapidly in the coming years thereby forcing up energy prices and rendering UK industry uncompetitive, and of course forcing more and more consumers into fuel poverty..

The UK’s energy minister was interviewed on the TV today, about the forthcoming blackouts (caused by decommissioning coal plants and gas plants being mothballed because they do not get paid when the wind blows and if they can sell energy for only about 75% of the time, they are not that profitable – the profits are made in the last quarter).

Fortunately, the government has a plan. This is that industry will be asked not to use energy between 4 and 8pm. If they do not use energy during that period of the day, they will get paid compensation. The consumer in their energy bills will subsidise that compensation. Of course, in addition there will be a resultant drop in GDP (upon which the minister did not comment) since industry will not be a 24/7 activity but will be only a 20/7 activity and will therefore produce less goods for export etc. In fact it may be even worse than that since many industries may not work after 10 pm and if they are being asked to down tools between 4 and 8pm, to save energy so that it is available for the domestic consumer, the end of the working day may become 4pm. Are the employees going to hang around for 4 hours waiting for when their employer can turn on the lights again? I suspect not. I am sure that the law of unintended consequences will raise its stubborn head (there will be a lot more travel and congestion and hence pollution caused by people leaving work at 4 pm, and returning back at say 7:30pm)..

It is good to know that we in the UK have such a competent government who are fully on top of matters. In fact the minister was telling us how cost effective this new initiative is. Apparently we should welcome it since although it will add to our bills, it is far cheaper than building more power stations, so there you have it. Good to know. The UK will be closed for business between 4 and 8 pm. Perhaps it is time to go back to the old tradition of afternoon tea. How very civilized.

Jun 10, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Managed decline. It stinks.

Jun 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


"Power cuts Winter 2014-15, just before the election..."

I shall be putting my kettle on, if it helps.. :-)

Jun 10, 2014 at 4:58 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

And dear old "One Amp" is given an A+ by the MSM. The following is from the DT Business Editorial column
The power of positive action
(scroll down)

"....The problem is, power plants are expensive. Building a new plant to sit dormant for most of the year and fire up for a couple of hours a year when things go wrong may not be the best use of consumers’ cash.

Ed Davey will today make clear that the new demand-management measures announced by National Grid will, for now, only be used as a last resort. But the Government is also looking at demand side management as a serious option to help manage power supplies in the long term. No-one wants a return to 1970s-style power rationing, but voluntary demand management could provide a cost-effective alternative to extra power plants. It would be foolish not to consider it...."

The demise of The 4th Estate continues at a pace.

PS, I can confirm Lord Beaverbrook's previous comment, there is nothing new in this proposal. Had to manage it most of my life in heavy industry. No real problem IIRC the sparks just used to do something clever with the Max Demand Meter?

Jun 10, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Surely the solution is to halt the close down of the existing coal fired stations - follow Germany and build some more using the latest technology. Coal will be cheap if Obarma has his way in the US. Convert Drax back to sensible coal burning instead of wood shipped half way around the world. Not rocket science !

Jun 10, 2014 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

There is a solution to the problem**, and it's being started now.

**The windmill subsidies: there needs to be investment in about 5 nukes' worth of decentralised generation in 10 million homes at nuke capital cost but using methane. This bypasses the Mafia-controlled electricity grid making the windmills uneconomic. They will be closed down in a fire sale, thereby allowing much cheaper, unsubsidised wind energy.

Jun 10, 2014 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

TAG mentioned that this is done in Canada now. Some years ago it was (and may still be) common in the US for large industrial electricity consumers (steel companies using electric arc furnaces for example) to pay lower rates in exchange for curtailing use when demand was high -- hot summer days when air conditioning was in use, for example.

To get an idea of what may be in store, readers should review this from Nepal ...

New Load-shedding Schedule

* Effective from June 4, 2014.

* Load-shedding will take place on the given time inside the Kathmandu Valley and 5 minutes after the given time outside the Valley.

* Depending upon the condition, load-shedding could increase/decrease by one hour.

Jun 10, 2014 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Peak load shifting is sensible for some businesses. But it still presumes a stable base grid with nominally sufficient peak capacity. The UK problem will be peak load at a time of no wind, as the subsidy structure has taken out of commission a lot of the usual gas turbine peakers. It takes a lot of load shifting to make up for just one multi hundred MW GT peaker. This is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The recent Scottish relay trip and subsequent blackout was just a taste of things to come in the UK. SoCalEdison is predicting the same for southern California, for the same wind capacity reasons, starting summer of 2015. Especially with the drought reducing peak hydro capacity there.

Jun 10, 2014 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan


"Power cuts Winter 2014-15, just before the election..."

I shall be putting my kettle on, if it helps.. :-)"

If it gets the idiot politicians like Cameron, Davey and Milliband to reconsider their faith in expensive and inefficient prayer wheels and wood chips from the other side of the Atlantic, I will be running both my electric showers and a kettle and fan heater. (and there I have to stop - the fuse on the meter is only 100A).

Jun 10, 2014 at 5:56 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Eternal Optimist

The approach in Canada varies by Province but there is no payment to "shut down" and, as someone said earlier, you have to decide how you want to pay for your power up front. Do you want to pay a premium to minimize the probability of an interruption, it can never be eliminated.

One big difference here is that our winter temperatures, especially in the prairies, can and do reach minus 40 for extended periods and the result of loss of power is not just discomfort. Severe property damage and risk of death are very real outcomes.

(I worked for an Oil Sands company and during my thirty year career we had three incidents of total loss of power in the deep of winter. In each case the result was a massive block of ice. The shortest recovery time from these incidents was three months and the longest was nine months, financial impacts of hundreds of millions of dollars. Fortunately it would be an unusual event today, the self generation capacity and the regional grid are now far more robust.)

As an aside I was very happy yesterday over a statement by our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. He said he will put the economy first over "global warming" and he further said that, in his view, the majority of countries have the same approach. It's just that Canada is more frank and honest in being prepared to say that. The statement was made during a press conference with Tony Abbott of Australia who echoed Harpers comments. Today the CBC is having a conniption and Green heads are exploding all over Canada. Happy days. Political analysts see these statements by Harper and Abbott as a warning to O'bama, "Do not raise Global Warming at the upcoming G20 meeting".

The world needs more Harpers and Abbotts.

The politicians, "Luvvies" and green idiots in the UK have slowly emasculated your power generation structure over the last ten years or so, unfortunately the consequences will be born not by them but by the average man in the street. Just waiting for the finger pointing to start.

Jun 10, 2014 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Singleton

Don't you think this has the same sort of whiff as the idea to increase road capacity on motorways by narrowing the existing three lanes and voila you have four at little extra cost.

Funny the blind spot they have with HS2 though. If you want to get to Birmingham 20 minutes earlier catch an earlier train.

If capacity is the problem then double decker trains and increase the height of appropriate road bridges.


Jun 10, 2014 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

"We were reminded just this Christmas what life can be like without power, when unprecedented extreme weather across the UK left nearly 900,000 households cut off, albeit for the vast majority of those cases, for less than a few hours"

Is it me or is this part totally irrelevant.

Jun 10, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

There may be more to this than meets the eye.
The UK has had a demand-management system for large industrial users for a long time. It is known as the "Triad" scheme. If memory serves, a major works gets a lower power tariff in return for agreeing to 3 half-hour power cuts per year. The timing of the cuts is at the supplier's discretion but they have to give warning. If the site fails to cut its power to a minimum level, it is charged an astronomic price for the power used during the "cut" period.
The water industry is a heavy user and many of its plants are on the scheme. I was at a large works near Huntingdon once when we were told that there was a "Triad" alert. Sure enough, later in the day, everything stopped bar office lighting and safety sytems.
Structured tariffs were also used widely where the company or works would agree a price based on projected consumption with penalties if the actual use fell outside the range.
So it is interesting that there is a need for further measures. That suggests that the potential shortfall is too great to be managed by the existing procedures. Worrying.

Jun 10, 2014 at 7:24 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Fortunately Lidl were selling 2.6 kW petrol generators a week or so ago for 179 GBP. I am now feeling smug though poorer by 179 GBP

Jun 10, 2014 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Arthur

Is it possible to suspend power station closures until replacements are ready? That should be question #1. Given this announcement I'm guessing the answer is 'no'.

To have to go public in this manner as Davey has done is jaw-droppingly embarrassing.

Yes it's been years in the making and the likes of BH has been ceaselessly banging the drum, but how in Gods name has the UK's energy policy really come to this? Car-crash management.

Jun 10, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

The attack on the UK power companies was clearly a diversionary tactic to keep this bilge off the pages of the newspapers.

Jun 10, 2014 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

I have been listening to the french and english politicians, recently, talking about their enrgy policies and fracking. Never in all my life have I heard such drivel coming from the mouths of mankind let alone polis.
France is going to find a new way to extract shale gas (gaz de schist) so they don't do fracking. Davey is going to pay factories to use diesel generators, the germans are going to go fracking and lignite burning and the EU commission is going to direct all of them to reduce their CO² output by 30% by 2030.

Utter, utter madness.

Jun 10, 2014 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

We are about to add an extension to the house. I am definitely going to make sure that the provision of a feed in point for a generator is on the list of things the electrician has to provide.

Does anyone have any pointers to what's involved?


Jun 10, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

One little point of light in all this gloom: the operating life of Dungeness B is being extended by 4 years.
If they can extend the lives of a few more of the AGRs, it will surely help.
Update: EDF are working on extensions for their whole fleet, per the website:
" Closures
All but one of these power stations are scheduled to close by the end of 2023. EDF Energy has a strategic objective, subject to commercial viability and to meeting the requirements of the safety authority, to secure an extension of 20 years for Sizewell B and an average of five-year life extensions for the rest of the fleet. "

Jun 10, 2014 at 9:28 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Will pensioners who cannot afford to heat their houses properly in winter be paid for not heating them? If so, perhaps they will be able to afford to heat them.

Jun 10, 2014 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

What a sick and backward country England has become under the rule of these idiots. Instead of securing the energy supply, they invent schemes to cut of power, drive industry and jobs away and generally make your life miserable.
Let us hope the voters give them the boot as they so rightly deserve and instead vote for someone who have the best interest of the country and its citizens in mind.

Jun 10, 2014 at 10:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorgeGR


We added an extension a few years back and our electrician installed a generator supply feed, which seemed a straightforward job. You end up with a master rotary switch near your consumer unit, which has three positions: Mains - Off - Generator. The latter two positions isolate the mains feed from your consumer unit and the 'Generator' position makes the generator the only feed. The connection to the generator is via a standard (blue) 16-Amp hookup lead/plug as used on caravans.

We live in a rural area and get a lot of power cuts so this setup has proved itself time and again. Our generator is rated at 3kVA and can run the heating, lighting, microwave, TV etc. and, if you're careful, a small kettle (~1.8 Kw).

You won't regret doing it. Just remember to service the generator regularly and fire it up about once a month to keep it in good running order so it'll be ok for when you really need it!

Jun 10, 2014 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterShrdlu


I think that a lot of people in industry will recall this scheme, it was a nice little money maker.


Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The TRIAD warnings have been evading my memory all evening and sending me nuts trying to remember the name.


From his statement Ed Davey said that current schemes give a balancing effect of 1% of capacity and they would like to increase this as America is up around 7% utilising similar incentives.

Achieving the level of wind capacity will probably be the main benefit but again how good are the forecasts for wind?

Jun 11, 2014 at 3:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Nial: My system is the same as Shrdlu. It's a simple and inexpensive job for a qualified electrician. The main thing to think about is the location of the feed-in, from the point of view of moving the generator (if not permanently housed there) and the noise/exhaust issue. Mine's diesel converted to run on LPG.

Jun 11, 2014 at 7:00 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Nial: and make sure you get pure sine-wave generator which are more expensive but will be much less likely to damage sensitive appliances.

Jun 11, 2014 at 7:42 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus


In order to reduce CO2 emissions, we're changing from large efficient power stations running on gas or nuclear, to loads of little tiny machines, all very inefficient, all producing diesel particulates and more CO2 emissions than we had when we started.

Oh, and it's going to cost a whole lot more too.

Insane? Delusional? Incompetent? Bonkers? Criminal?

I can't think of any suitable word to describe this. It's just, well, extraordinary that anyone would manage a supposedly First World economy and country this way.

Jun 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin


In order to reduce CO2 emissions, we're changing from large efficient power stations running on gas or nuclear, to loads of little tiny machines, all very inefficient, all producing diesel particulates and more CO2 emissions than we had when we started.

Oh, and it's going to cost a whole lot more too.

Insane? Delusional? Incompetent? Bonkers? Criminal?

I can't think of any suitable word to describe this. It's just, well, extraordinary that anyone would manage a supposedly First World economy and country this way.

Jun 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

@Lord Beaverbrook: " Those who can't just don't join the scheme, no penalties or fines."


If not enough businesses join the scheme, the lights WILL go out. They are only doing this out of desperation, they can see that there will be a crunch quite soon, and this is an attempt to head it off.

And as some here have pointed out, the disconnections and load shedding will start with those who were naive enough to allow "smart" meters to be installed. That's what "smart" meters are for.

There will be serious trouble about this, as there should be. Let us hope that the right people end up getting blamed.

Jun 11, 2014 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

Lapogus; your comment raises an intriguing question. If/when power cuts or government incentives trigger the use of back-up generators, will that open a whole new can of worms?
A few years back there were problems with the kit my company had supplied to a water treatment works. This was an ozone generating plant which included some fairly hefty power electronics and, as with all modern plant, it had numerous smart controls and PLCs. The client had carried out a trial run of their back-up generator and our plant reacted to the switchover by shutting down and there were issues with the generator supply.
I have no electrical expertise so it was explained to me in the usual baby-talk that experts use for these occasions. Apparently there was a dip and surge on changeover and the power from the generator was "dirty".
Remembering this makes me wonder whether clunky old back-up diesel units are still suitable for consumers using modern controls, computers, etc..

Jun 11, 2014 at 10:23 AM | Registered Commentermikeh

Thanks for the feedback guys.

The distribution panel is in the garage, it's being brought inside but it'll be easy to incorporate a big blue socket on the other side of the wall, in the garage.

Jun 11, 2014 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterNial

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