In the National Grid’s winter outlook report, they stated that blackouts for businesses and households were a highly unlikely scenario.
However, it has now been issued that the UK might have to face planned three-hour outages from 4 pm to 7 pm in the Winter months of January and February. This is due to supplies from Europe possibly not being able to meet demand.
Due to France and Norway scrambling to keep energy security in the EU it could mean the UK gets fewer supplies. In this case, the UK would need to conserve power, which would lead to planned switch offs.
The UK is hoping to be able to secure supplies to stop this situation from happening or reduce the number of planned power outages there would be. This includes Ofgem and energy suppliers coming together to launch a voluntary service to reward users who reduce demand at peak times.
Why is the UK facing blackouts?
The UK gets many energy supplies from the EU. Although the EU has managed to fill their gas storage tanks, a really cold winter could cause a major hit to supplies. In this case, countries such as France and Norway could conserve supplies, meaning the UK could get less gas.
The EU’s energy situation has worsened over the past year mainly due to the war with Russia. This has led to an energy crisis across the UK. Although the war in Russia has worsened the energy crisis, the UK has become vulnerable due to decades of failed energy policies.
All the recent energy policies in the UK have just pushed the country further towards reliance on foreign supplies. This leaves us vulnerable to Putin’s use of energy as a geopolitical weapon.
Will blackouts affect my business?
Blackouts are still a “worst case scenario” plan, but if they do come into effect, then yes your business could possibly be affected.
If blackouts do happen it has been said it will mostly be in the evening time around 4 PM to 7 PM. If your business runs during normal business hours e.g., 9 AM to 5 PM your business will most likely have little to no disruptions to business operations.
However, this situation is going to be worrying for your customers and employees so planning for this time is going to be key.
What should I do in the event of a blackout?
Make sure employees are safe
If there is a blackout health and safety should be a business’s top priority. You should ensure plans consider working conditions for employees. For example, would it be safe to work in an office with no lights or heat?
You should also consider an employee’s security, if the security systems do not have a backup for when there is no electricity you should be assessing whether it would be safe to be in the building.
If your business is an onsite business where customers can come in, then you should also assess the safety of customers in the event of a blackout.
Be flexible around the blackout
Since the pandemic, a lot of businesses have now gone remote and work from home. In the case of power outages, all businesses should have some flexibility with employees.
This could be to their workload in general as they might have internet connectivity issues or not be able to work in the event of a blackout.
If you don’t work remotely, you could consider having some flexibility around working times to minimise any disruptions a blackout may cause.
Consider employee wellbeing
If your business does suffer due to blackouts make sure you are communicating with all employees throughout the whole process. If any procedures are put in place in the business, ensure everyone is aware of what these are and what they need to do.
Read more here for additional tips for your business during a blackout.
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