The National Grid has had to reassure business owners there will be enough power this winter, despite their capacity to provide electricity dropping to an eight-year low.

Following plant closures due to fires at the Didcot B power station and a plant in Oxfordshire, the electricity margin (the difference between expected peak demand and ability to supply) has fallen to 4.1%.

It is the lowest figure since 2006-07 when the figure stood at 3%. The margin has been falling steadily from 17% over three years ago and 5.9% 12 months ago.

In its Winter Outlook 2014/15 report, the National Grid states it has, “reassessed the volume requirement for this winter” and is “procuring two new balancing services” to manage any risk for the winter.

Businesses asked to consider energy usage

The National Grid has suggested that it has plans in place to manage supply, even paying big firms to switch their power off at peak times or when it is not needed. 

Businesses can also contribute by switching to more energy efficient appliances, with studies suggesting that these two approaches lessen the need for new power stations, and reduce the stress on the electricity grid.

Emergency measures put into place

Cordi O’Hara, director of market operations at National Grid, commented: “We cannot be complacent and will be monitoring the situation through to spring next year”. They have also enlisted additional plants at Rye House in Hertfordshire, Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and Littlebrook in Kent to provide reserve power if need be.

Forecasts from the National Grid show that without the contingency measures, a severe cold snap could cut the margin to only 2.8%, but with the additional capacity it could rise to 6.1%.

After discussions with the National Grid, Energy Secretary Ed Davey says he is “reassured” that energy supplies are not at risk.

Make energy savings

Following the report from the National Grid, the good news is that there shouldn’t be any real concern for businesses trading over the winter. By monitoring usage via smart technologies and comparing tariffs you can find the cheapest prices available.

If you would like to speak to the Project Lower business energy comparison team, please call on 0330 333 4106 to find how much you can save.