National Grid will pay households to use less electricity as coal generators go into standby

Power companies’ plans to offer people discounts for cutting down on their electricity use have been extended until tomorrow.

Some households with smart meters may qualify for reductions if they save energy between 5pm and 6pm on Monday and between 4.30pm and 6pm on Tuesday.

For the first time, National Grid ESO (power system operator) launches its “Demand Flexibility Service (DFS)”.

The idea is to limit demand when it is at its highest during very cold winter days.

Households with up-to-date smart meters that are registered in the system through their supplier can get discounts if they reduce electricity consumption by switching off energy-intensive devices at certain times.

ESO said it was seeking bids from suppliers to help save up to 341 megawatts of energy between 4.30pm and 6pm on Tuesday.

The plan may be abandoned if weather conditions improve.

Will you participate in the Demand Flexibility Service? Tell us about your experiences

The scheme reportedly compares consumption with the customer’s usual demand and pays £3 for every unit or kilowatt-hour (kWh) saved.

It is believed that this could cut household bills by up to £100 over the winter.

The program is expected to run until March and is supported by 26 suppliers, including Octopus Energy and EDF.

So far, DFS has only been used in testing.

Read more:
What is the Demand Flexibility Service and how can I save £100 on my energy bills if I sign up?

Check the weather forecast where you are

ESO’s National Grid said its announcement should not be interpreted as a sign that electricity supplies are at risk.

“People shouldn’t worry,” it tweeted. “These are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need.”

The spokesman added: “Our projections show that electricity supply margins will be tighter than normal on Monday evening.

“We instructed coal-fired units will be available to increase the supply of electricity if needed.

Cold weather means more people are heating their homes, increasing energy demands, while the lack of wind has reduced renewables.

Three UK coal-fired power stations – two at the Drax plant in North Yorkshire and one at West Burton in Nottinghamshire – have been ordered to start heating up in case they are needed when cold weather sets in.

Craig Dyke, ESO’s head of national control, told Sky News: “We made the decision over the weekend to heat three coal-fired power plants, just for unforeseen circumstances, so not necessarily for work.

“Just to make sure that as we go through tonight’s rush hour today, we can reassure the public that there will be electricity for them to use when they want to use it.”

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