The grid operator is today activating its scheme to pay participating households to reduce energy consumption during peak hours
As many as a million households across the UK with smart meters will be paid by National Grid ESO to use less electricity this evening between 17.00 and 18.00 as part of its Demand Flexibility Service.
Those which have signed up to the scheme can save money on their bills if they delay using energy intensive appliances during the period of peak grid demand. The move will see the scheme run officially for the first time following a series of tests last year and the introduction of similar incentives by a number of energy suppliers.
In an announcement on Twitter the grid operator stressed the launch of the Demand Flexibility Service "does not mean that electricity supplies are at risk and people should not be worried".
The recent cold snap, which has seen temperatures drop as low as -7C in parts of the UK, has seen a surge in energy use as more people use their heating, prompting National Grid ESO to state that it expected margins this evening to be tighter than normal.
In addition the grid operator had asked for three coal-fired generators to be put on standby as part of a move to ensure sufficient capacity in case power supplies ran low. However, it said that these plans "are precautionary measures to maintain the buffer of spare capacity we need" and added that consumers "should not be worried".
National Grid ESO first announced plans for the Demand Flexibility Service last year. By the end of last year, data gathered by a series of trials revealed the Demand Flexibility Service had delivered 780MWh of real and projected demand reduction, while delivering participating providers with an anticipated £2.8m in savings.
There are 26 providers currently involved in the Demand Flexibility Service, including British Gas, E.ON, Octopus Energy, and EDF.
Advocates of flexible grid services maintain that by incentivising households and businesses to reduce power demand during brief periods of peak demand the UK can reduce the cost of decarbonising the grid, slash emissions by avoiding the need to power up back up power plants, reduce energy bills for everyone, and curb the need for costly gas imports.
* This article was originally published here