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Households have to pay for power cuts for two consecutive days as margins are low

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Households would be paid to reduce their electricity usage for two consecutive days as coal plants were again set on standby in case the power supply was too low.

The grid operator said it would be the second live run of a scheme that pays businesses and households to switch off some appliances for an hour or two.

Tuesday’s session of the Demand Flexibility Service will come exactly 24 hours after the first live run on Monday between 5PM and 6PM.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said it will run between 4.30 pm and 6 pm on Tuesday.

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“We have taken this decision because we see a similar operational picture to what is currently available on Sunday,” the company said in a statement Monday afternoon.

“The use of these additional services is not an indication that the power supply is at risk, but we need more options to manage the network in general.”

This recent cold weather and poor conditions for wind turbines has left the grid with less supply to meet demand than it would have liked.

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Families will be in the running for higher-than-usual pay on both Monday and Tuesday.

Several test runs have taken place in the past, but Monday was the first time the Demand Flexibility Service was used to ensure the grid was balanced.

The system is set up to ensure that no more electricity is being taken out than is being put in at any given minute.

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Traditionally the grid operator does this by creating an additional supply, but the new system allows it to reduce the amount of electricity being pulled out.

Monday was the second time that a live run of the Demand Flexibility Service was called.

Last time it was canceled before it was due but on Monday the service went ahead as per schedule.

Octopus Energy’s customers are among those who can expect to pay higher than usual.

The supplier said all participating customers can expect to be awarded points worth £3.37 per unit of electricity saved, which is a 50% increase on previous payments.

Many other suppliers also bid for more contracts than usual, which means they can pay more for their customers to participate.

National Grid said 26 suppliers have signed up to its Demand Flexibility Service.

Households with these suppliers must sign up in advance and opt into the system each time.

Octopus said customers with an active smart meter could sign up any time before the start of the session at 5pm on Monday.

Separately, ESO also said on Monday that three coal power plants had been asked to heat up in case supplies fell on Tuesday.

Sites owned by Drax and EDF were made to close permanently as the UK phased out coal. But amid the ongoing energy crisis, they were kept ready this winter as part of an agreement with the government. Haven’t needed to use any yet.

All three sites had already been heated on Sunday when needed on Monday, but stood down around midnight.

These plants need time to slowly warm up before they can start producing electricity for British homes, so the grid needs to warn them in advance.

it’s all fine and just the grid is doing its job

Adam Bell, chief policy expert at consultancy Stonehaven, said the system was working as it should.

Every day the national grid has to manage the supply by calling in and standing by electricity generators.

“It’s all fine and just the grid doing its job,” Mr Bell said, adding that the demand resilience side is “interesting”.

ESO head of national control, Craig Dyke, told Sky News: “We made the decision to heat three coal-fired power stations over the weekend, just in case of a contingency, so it is not necessary to run.

“Just making sure that as we go through this evening’s peak, we can assure society that they will have electricity to use when they want to use it.”

(Tags to translate)domestic

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