Launched a program offering households reductions on energy bills for switching uses

Some households will be paid if they reduce their electricity use during peak hours on certain days this winter, after national grid plans were given the green light by the energy regulator.

The network operator, which revealed the service as part of efforts to avoid potential outages, said households could save up to £100 from the limited scheme.

Energy watchdog Ofgem has approved proposals by power grid operator National Grid (ESO) to launch the scheme, called the demand-side flexibility service, from November to March.

In the coming days, ESO will be looking to perform the first tests of the service, which will also be available for businesses.

There will be a total of 12 days of testing to see how customers respond. Only customers with smart meters will be able to participate.

But there could also be several additional days where the network asks households to move their usage.

Octopus Energy, which is the only supplier so far that appears to be recruiting customers, estimates that the system could be used around 13 times this winter to avoid power shortages on the grid. National Grid has not published such estimates.

So far, about 350,000 company customers have joined the program. Ovo Energy has launched a smaller program that is not tied to the national grid, but offers similar benefits.

Households participating in the program will receive a message from their provider in the event of increased pressure on the system.

It will ask people and businesses that have signed up to reduce or shift their electricity use to off-peak hours.

It comes a month after the operator warned in its winter outlook that the first predicted blackouts in decades could hit parts of the country this winter if power stations cannot get enough gas to keep running.

In what it called an “unlikely” scenario, the ESO said households and businesses could face planned three-hour outages to ensure the grid does not collapse.

Fintan Slye, ESO Executive Director, said: “We are delighted that Ofgem has approved the use of our demand flexibility service this winter.

“This will help mitigate the potential risks that the ESO has outlined in its winter outlook and allow consumers to see a financial return for reducing their peak hour electricity usage.

“As responsible operator of the electrical system, we have developed this innovative demand-side flexibility service to complement the robust set of tools we already use to balance the electrical system on a daily basis.”

So-called demand-side responses have been touted by industry experts for years as an effective way to prevent outages and help households use energy when wind turbines and solar panels are producing a lot. of energy.

In the future, the hope is that a household’s smart meter can itself detect when there is plenty of cheap renewable electricity available, and at that time it can start charging the car or to heat the house.

The current setup probably won’t be automated for most households. Instead, people will have to manually decide whether to put their washing machine on at a different time or not plug in their electric car until later in the evening.

No one will be penalized for not participating in the program, and those who sign up can still use as much electricity as they want during peak hours.

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