Lights staying on, insists minister
There will be no power blackouts this winter, Energy Minister Amber Rudd insisted as she sought to ease fears that Britain will struggle to keep the lights on in the face of very cold weather.
The likelihood of blackouts is the highest in the last eight years following a series of recent power station closures and bad weather of the kind seen in 2010 could put a serious strain on the National Grid.
In the event of a big freeze contingencies such as the factory shutdowns and firing up unused power plants may be introduced to keep the lights on.
National Grid's winter outlook, unveiled at an Ofgem seminar last month, revealed that the capacity margin this winter was expected at 4.1%, the narrowest since 2006/7.
But Ms Rudd said there would be no blackouts.
During energy questions in the Commons, she told MPs: "There will be no blackouts this winter and this bench will continue to deliver the renewable energy and the energy security that we need in this country."
Ms Rudd was responding to Labour former minister John Spellar, who said the entire Department for Energy and Climate Change frontbench should resign in the event of blackouts.
Mr Spellar said: "Solar energy is showing enormous technological breakthroughs and really worthy of further investment but they won't get us through this winter.
"And in view of the complacent answers from the minister in the last set of questions - if there are blackouts this winter, will this ministerial bench resign?"