Russian threat

Ministers plan for potential power cuts in winter

Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng has written to power companies

Britain could face blackouts this winter if electricity supplies have to be rationed because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

UK ministers are now looking to prolong the life of coal and nuclear power stations in order to minimise the impact on households and businesses.

The move comes amid talk of shortages of gas and electricity if Russia goes further in cutting off supplies to the EU.

According to The Times, a Westminster briefing suggested that electricity could have to be rationed for up to six million homes at the start of next year, mostly at peaks in the morning and evening.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, has written to the owners of Britain’s three remaining coal-fired power stations to ask them to keep them open beyond their scheduled closure date in September.

Under one scenario Norwegian imports of gas, from where the UK now gets most of its supplies, could more than halve because of increased EU demand. It is thought this would only affect businesses.

A Whitehall source told The Times: “As a responsible government it is right that we plan for every single extreme scenario, however unlikely. Britain is well prepared for any supply disruptions.”

Despite the assurances, some will fear a re-run of the crisis in the 1970s when picketing of power stations by coal miners saw the Heath government impose a three-day working week, with all businesses forced to limit their use of electricity.

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