Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

UK will not face blackouts: Fallon

Michael Fallon has insisted that there will be no 1970s-style industrial blackouts in the UK

Britain will not be hit by 1970s-style industrial blackouts, energy minister Michael Fallon has insisted.

The Tory MP admitted there was a "risk" of power shortages in the UK within three years but insisted the Government would not let that happen.

It comes after regulator Ofgem warned that electricity margins could tighten in 2015-16 to between around 2% to 5% depending on demand.

Mr Fallon told BBC1's Sunday Politics: "I don't agree there is a real risk. There is a risk, of course. There is going to be less reserve capacity in three years time but we have got time to deal with that and we have got plans to deal with that."

Asked what chance there was of Britain being hit by blackouts, he replied: "Oh, low. We are going to make sure they don't happen I can absolutely tell you... We are not going to have industrial blackouts, factories shut at lunch time and people sent home or anything like that."

Mr Fallon insisted the Government had inherited a legacy of under-investment, claiming "nothing was done under Labour". He said six new gas plants, two on-shore and two off-shore windfarms, and biomass fuel plants had opened since the Coalition took power and more were in the pipeline.

The Conservative minister insisted that plans for industrial users to switch off at times of high demand was a contingency plan that had been in place for 20 years, though he conceded that had never been necessary.

Earlier this week Ofgem said: "The report shows that electricity supplies are set to tighten faster than previously expected in the middle of this decade.

"The risk to electricity supplies is projected to increase from the current near zero levels, although Ofgem does not consider disruption to supplies is imminent or likely, providing the industry manages the problem effectively."

Ofgem also highlighted uncertainty around supply and demand for electricity.

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