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Self-Isolation to Dampen Britain’s Electricity Demand


Millions of employees self-isolating to limit the spread of coronavirus will reduce the UK’s electricity demand, National Grid and energy network companies expect.

National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO), which balances electricity supply and demand, anticipates long-term self-isolation will dampen industrial and commercial demand, while increasing domestic demand to a lesser degree, according to a press release from the Energy Network Association (ENA). 

The public should also be assured that regardless of the disruption caused by COVID-19, their energy supply will continue as normal, the ENA said. 

The ENA represents companies which own and operate the UK’s electricity grid and gas pipes. These network companies are “providers of essential services and critical infrastructure” with “well-practised contingency plans in place to … continue to deliver services to the communities they serve across the UK,” the ENA said in a statement.

These contingency plans include industry-wide mutual aid arrangements for staff and equipment needed to keep gas and electricity flowing. Additionally, measures have been introduced to protect control rooms from which the networks are run and their contact centres. Backup centres exist if operations need to be moved, for instance, if deep-cleaning is required, and steps have been taken to ensure networks remain resilient if employee absentee numbers rise.

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said: “The UK’s electricity and gas network is one of the most reliable in the world and network operators are working with the authorities to ensure that their contingency plans are reviewed and delivered in accordance with the latest expert advice. We are following this advice closely and reassuring customers that energy networks are continuing to operate as normal for the public.”

The companies will continue to respond to emergency calls, including for gas leaks and power cuts. However, customers who are self-isolating or have a confirmed case of coronavirus and need an engineer to visit their property should alert the energy network operator so the appropriate precautions can be taken.

“ENA and its members are working closely with the government and public health bodies to make sure their staff work safely and in line with expert advice as they continue to support the public,” the body state in a statement.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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