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Britain backs off on declaring a grid emergency

A boost in gas-fired power capacity means a rationing program won't be implemented.

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The British grid regulator backed off on plans to impose a type of power rationing service after improvements in capacity. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
The British grid regulator backed off on plans to impose a type of power rationing service after improvements in capacity. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The operator of the electricity grid in Britain backed off plans on Monday to activate emergency measures after power supplies were deemed adequate.

The National Grid Electricity System Operator said earlier on Monday that it was considering invoking its Demand Flexibility Service for the first time ever as part of an effort to avoid blackouts the following day.

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ESO launched the flexibility program in early November. By design, it's meant to offer consumers and businesses incentives for cutting back on the amount of electricity they use during certain periods throughout the day.

High prices and concerns over supplies have put much of the region on edge as winter descends on the Northern Hemisphere. Natural gas prices jumped on Monday amid reports of a cold spell for the British isles.

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But the grid regulator eventually backed off plans to impose the Demand Flexibility Service in response to industry sources reporting that gas-fired power facilities brought extra capacity online to avoid service disruptions, The Guardian reported.

Data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, meanwhile, show that regional gas supplies -- including those in Britain -- are at an all-time high for this time of year, suggesting early-year concerns of major supply-side problems won't materialize.

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The sidelining of Russian natural gas as punishment for the February invasion of Ukraine has been more of a concern for members of the European Union, however, as the British economy relies on domestic natural gas and imports from Norway to keep the lights on.

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Nevertheless, the Bank of England had pinned much of the blame on Russia, which created heightened volatility in the wholesale energy markets. For natural gas alone, the bank said prices have been changing by more than 15% a day at the most extreme.

Tony Jordan, a senior partner at the consultancy Auxilione, told The Guardian that warnings from the ESO should serve as a reminder of the importance of conserving power, but consumers shouldn't be overly concerned.

"Spot prices (for natural gas) are rising on the back of the cold weather ... but this is how the system works, it will convince people to cut back on their usage and balance out supply and demand," he said. "There will be some scaremongering but it looks like we should be fine."

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The Met Office, Britain's weather reporting agency, shows heavy rains and cool weather for London on Monday, with temperatures hovering around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Cloudy skies with lows in the 40s are expected for the weekend.

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