Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Ministers rule out energy-saving campaign despite potential blackout warning

The National Grid Electricity System Operator has outlined a scenario which could see the need for three-hour outages (Phil Noble/PA)
The National Grid Electricity System Operator has outlined a scenario which could see the need for three-hour outages (Phil Noble/PA)

Liz Truss has ruled out launching an energy-saving public information campaign, amid warnings planned blackouts could hit the UK if power plants cannot get enough gas to keep running.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is believed to have backed a £15 million campaign this winter, with the Times reporting the idea was blocked by No 10.

It added the campaign was seen as “light touch” and included measures designed to help people save up to £300 a year, including lowering the temperature of boilers, turning off radiators in empty rooms and advising people to turn off the heating when they go out.

The newspaper quoted a Government source describing the campaign as a “no-brainer” and said No 10 had made a “stupid decision”, but it added Ms Truss is said to be “ideologically opposed” to such an approach as it could be too interventionist.

A Government source approached by the PA news agency said they were not denying the report contained in the Times.

Asked to comment on the report, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy issued a statement on behalf of the Government in which it insisted ministers are not launching a campaign and “any claim otherwise is untrue”.

Prime Minister Ms Truss earlier sought to downplay concerns although stopped short of explicitly offering a guarantee of no blackouts.

Her remarks came in response to a report from the body that oversees Britain’s electricity grid.

In what it called an “unlikely” scenario, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) said that households and businesses might face planned three-hour outages to ensure that the grid does not collapse.

A Government spokesman said: “The UK has a secure and diverse energy system.

“We have plans to protect households and businesses in the full range of scenarios this winter, in light of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.

“To strengthen this position further, we have put plans in place to secure supply and National Grid, working alongside energy suppliers and Ofgem, will launch a voluntary service to reward users who reduce demand at peak times.

“We will continue to work internationally on tackling rising energy prices and ensuring security of supply, but there are no current plans to follow the EU’s decision.

“However, ministers are not launching a public information campaign and any claim otherwise is untrue.”

Planned blackouts hit the UK during the 1970s in response to the miners’ strikes and the oil crisis.

There have also been major unplanned outages during storms, including in 1987 when more than 1.5 million people were left in the dark.

But the lights will stay on this winter unless the gas-fired power plants that produced 43% of Britain’s electricity over the last year cannot get enough gas to continue operating.

It is the most dire of three possible scenarios that the ESO laid out on Thursday for how Britain’s electricity grid might cope with the worst global energy crisis for decades.

In the other two scenarios, the operator hopes that by paying people to charge their electric cars at off-peak times, and firing up back-up coal plants, it can offset the risk of blackouts.

Ms Truss, pressed to guarantee there will be no blackouts, told reporters during a visit to the Czech Republic: “What we’re clear about is that we do have a good supply of energy in the UK, we’re in a much better position than many other countries, but of course there’s always more we can do, and that’s why I’m here working with our partners, making sure we do have a secure energy supply into the future.”

Ms Truss added: “We do have good energy supplies in the UK, we can get through the winter, but of course I am always looking for ways that we can improve the price for consumers.

“That’s why we put in place the energy price guarantee as well as making sure we have as much supply as possible.”

Ms Truss has previously said she would not be telling people to ration their energy use this winter, as Russian president Vladimir Putin limits gas supplies to Europe in retaliation for sanctions linked to the Ukraine war.

During the Conservative Party leadership contest, Ms Truss also said there would be no energy rationing.

She has since offered a multibillion-pound price guarantee which will prevent average annual household bills going past £2,500.

For Labour, shadow climate secretary Ed Miliband said: “Today’s report from National Grid shows our vulnerability as a country as a direct consequence of a decade of failed Conservative energy policy.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey called on the Government to convene the emergency Cobra committee to address the possibility of blackouts.

He said: “A failure to act now could see millions plunged into rolling blackouts whilst petrol and heating oil prices spiral even further out of control.”

The margins between peak demand and power supply are expected to be sufficient, and similar to recent years in the National Grid ESO’s base case scenario for this winter.

But in the face of the “challenging” winter facing European energy supplies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the grid operator is also planning for what would happen if there were no imports of electricity from Europe.

To tackle a loss of imports from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, there are two gigawatts of coal-fired power plants on standby to fire up if needed to meet demand.

National Grid Gas Transmission separately said that while gas demand will increase this winter, it expects Britain to be able to get enough gas to take it through a “Beast from the East” scenario or a long, cold winter.