NJust five weeks ago, shortly before her election as the new prime minister, Liz Truss had explicitly “ruled out” the possibility of bottlenecks in Great Britain and the possibility of energy rationing. When she was asked by journalists at the meeting of the European Political Community (EPG) in Prague on Thursday whether she could rule out power cuts this winter, she refused to answer. Instead, she just said the UK has “good coverage” and is “in a significantly better position than many other countries”. Britain will “get through the winter”.
This was exactly what the (predominantly) British network operator “National Grid” questioned on Friday. Both private households and companies run the risk of being affected by power outages lasting up to three hours if the Ukraine war causes imports from Europe to fall, it said. The British would soon be called upon to only switch on electrical appliances such as washing machines at night to prevent problems at peak times. Another contingency measure by the operator is to offer households and businesses money if they turn off electricity at peak times. Asked about Truss’ refusal to rule out blackouts, Graham Stuart, Secretary of State for Climate Protection, said in London on Friday: “Events have developed.”
criticism of the EU
In the past few weeks, the government had complained that the EU Commission had refused to talk about a coordinated energy policy. During the EPG meeting, Truss asked that the EU states continue to supply the kingdom with electricity and gas during the winter.
When asked about this, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in Prague that a few months ago, Belgium had supplied electricity “to keep the lights on in London”. His country supplies a quarter of the island’s gas needs. The existing interconnectors would also remain open in the future, so you have to stick together especially now. “The UK is no longer a member of the EU, but we remain partners and we continue to trade with each other.” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “I hope the lights stay on (in London) but we cannot do it alone. “
In Prague, Truss also discussed closer cooperation on the expansion of wind turbines in the North Sea with the two heads of government and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In the medium term, this could cover most of the electricity requirements in the EU, it said. The United Kingdom is now to be reinstated in a group of EU countries bordering the North Sea, from which it left with Brexit. Rutte called this a “fantastic development”.
Truss was also praised for her cooperative attitude from the German side. In Prague she also tried to eliminate irritations in relation to France. During a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, she made it clear that he was a “friend”. Both sides agreed to a summit meeting next year and closer cooperation against irregular migration.
“We are not a nanny state government”
Despite the tense situation, the British government is apparently sticking to its policy of not calling on citizens to make savings. According to media reports, a campaign to this effect, which had been prepared by Economics Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, was canceled by the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday. According to Secretary of State Stuart, “there isn’t a huge benefit in telling people to use less energy”.
We’re also “reluctant to tell people what to do because we’re not a nanny state government.” Instead, it will reach out to the big energy consumers and engage with the average consumer “using smart technology to offer them rewards for reduced consumption during peak hours.”
According to The Times, Rees-Mogg had had a £15million advertising campaign drawn up, one of which was to advise Brits to turn off the heaters in unused rooms and when leaving the house. Although the measures could have saved households an average of £300 a year, they were rejected on the grounds that “the information is already available”. Critics see this as “ideological opposition” on the part of the prime minister. A government official told The Times that it was an “idiotic decision.” The campaign was pragmatically aimed at saving citizens money, not at “teaching” them.