energy blackout power cut

Scottish homes face blackouts as winter power cuts loom

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Thousands of homes in Scotland have been hit by blackouts following sub-zero temperatures and significant snowfall, as UK Power Networks urges people to prepare for possible power cuts this winter.

The temperature at Braemar in Aberdeenshire dropped to -17.3°C over night making it the coldest place in the UK for the second night in a row.

In Shetland, thousands of homes are still left without power following significant snowfall, although power has been restored to more than 2,500 properties.

Some 3,800 homes in Voe, Whalsay, Brae, Tumblin, Yell and Unst are still not connected, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has said, warning that it may take until the end of the week to restore power due to the extent of damage, significant travel restrictions and continued issues accessing fault locations.

UK Power Networks (UKPN), which maintains electricity networks across London, the South East and East of England, has encouraged people to prepare a personal power cut plan this winter.

While National Grid ESO’s view remains that there will be adequate electricity supplies across the UK this winter, UKPN warned that power cuts can still occur due to a range of reasons, including national energy issues.

In May, ministers were warned that millions of UK households could face blackouts this winter with energy rationing plans being drawn up.

But in a bid to calm fears, former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said in October that it is “extremely unlikely” that such plans will be enforced.

The energy industry has well-established procedures in place if there is ever a national energy shortage.

As well as planned emergency power cuts, ‘power sharing’ rotas could be imposed that would see three-hour power cuts being instituted in different areas.

These measures are all considered to be last resort efforts that will only be implemented once National Grid ESO has exhausted all other options. Distribution network operators would be instructed to disconnect power supplies under the Electricity Supply Emergency Code.

UKPN director of customer service Ian Cameron said: “A national power emergency is unlikely, but if it was to happen, we want to reassure our customers that we are here to help. Our teams work round the clock to answer customer calls and provide online updates on our website and social media.

“We are sharing advice now, in the full hope that this will never be needed by our customers. What we are asking people to do, is to think about how they would cope if they were to be without power. There are several actions you can take right now that would better equip you, should your power go off at any point in future.” 

UKPN advises keep a mobile phone fully charged so that it can be used to go online during a power cut. It also suggests keeping a torch handy, stocking up on warm clothes and blankets and storing food which doesn’t need heating.

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