The Government has a number of methods that it can use to stop a shortfall of either gas or electricity causing a situation to deteriorate into an emergency. In the first instance Government would invoke powers available to it under the Fuel Security Code. This enables it to direct generators (power stations) to use alternative sources of fuel to generate electricity.
A revised Fuel Security Code has been developed by BERR following extensive consultation with stakeholders. The new Code and an associated Guidance Note have now been issued and can be viewed below:
The Fuel Security Code has been updated to take account of change in the electricity market following implementation of the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA) and changes in industry structures.
If a prolonged shortage of electricity affects either a region, or the whole of the country, it may be necessary to ration available electricity. The mechanism for doing this is outlined in the Electricity Supply Emergency Code. The Code outlines the process for invoking rota disconnections, which are designed to allow for the fair and equitable distribution to the country while safeguard those identified as requiring special treatment in times of crisis.
Both of the above measures are designed to stop a shortage of supply leading to an emergency. However, unforeseen circumstances such as disruption caused by severe weather or damage to certain parts of the gas or electricity infrastructure could lead to an emergency situation developing. Thankfully these situations are extremely rare but Government works closely with industry to understand and plan for these eventualities. Emergency plans are in place to deal with gas and/or electricity emergencies, these have been agreed with industry and tested on a regular basis to insure that they are robust and fit for purpose. Additional advice on handling emergencies can be found on the UK Resilience: Emergency Response & Recovery webpage.
The National Emergency Plan for Downstream gas and electricity was substantially revised during 2008 and the new version can be found below: