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Preparing for winter – National Grid’s Winter Outlook

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By SSE Energy Solutions
07 October 2022

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National Grid has released its gas and electricity winter outlooks that detail supply and demand scenarios to help market participants prepare for winter. One scenario includes potential gas shortages that could restrict gas-fired electricity generation and lead to rota disconnections of electricity this winter.

In the unlikely event this happens, we know it’s essential that your business is prepared, so we’ve put together this information to help you plan ahead.

A rota disconnection code is allocated by postcode and is used by the UK Government and National Grid to communicate if power is being cut off in your area or site. Disconnections would be scheduled in three-hour blocks. There are approximately 1,000 properties designated as protected sites, including hospitals and control rooms.

In the event of a supply emergency

Well-established industry processes are in place to manage demand reductions, including rota disconnections to ensure electricity is rationed across all users.

The Government would issue the ultimate authorisation for rota disconnections to National Grid, who in turn would direct Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to disconnect customers. The Government would use national television, radio and social media channels to notify customers of the rota disconnection level, and you can check the times of disruption against your corresponding rota disconnection code, which is allocated by postcode.

As a supplier, SSE Energy Solutions would have no role in disconnecting customers.

Block letters for rota disconnections

You can find out your rota disconnection code, also known as a ‘block letter’ or ‘alpha identifier’ on the website powercut105.com by typing your premises postcode into the section ‘Find Your Network Operator’.

Find your network operator

You can also find this letter in a square box on the front of your bill.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do to prepare?

  1. Find the Rota Disconnection Code for your site – if National Grid instructs emergency disconnections, it will help you understand if you're impacted.
  2. Think about your business continuity plan – what preparations do you need to make if your power is disconnected?
  3. Review if your site has emergency back-up power arrangements and that these have been inspected and tested.
  4. If you don’t have site back-up power, consider how you would respond:
  • make arrangements to use other sites or home working if notified of a power outage
  • consider how you'll let your employees and customers know if there are changes to your operations
  • ensure laptops and mobile phones are charged
  • consider if you need temporary or battery lighting

Electricity use is critical for my business/systems/etc. Can I do anything to prevent being impacted by rota disconnections?

Not unless your site is designated a Protected Site. For this to happen the site has to be providing one of the Designated Services listed in Table 1 of the UK Government document – Electricity Supply Emergency Code (ESEC) – as well as meeting additional criteria (shown in paragraph 5.3 of the document). If your site meets this criteria, you can check with your Distribution Network Operator about it being designated a Protected Site.

What sort of notice will I be provided with before any interruption?

Rotas would be implemented via a ‘block letter’ that is allocated to sites. Further information will be made available by National Grid and the Government through their website and text messaging service.

Who will decide whether or not to interrupt my supply?

If rationing, via rota disconnection, is needed, this will be done on a rota disconnection basis, which will be authorised by the Government, with National Grid directing Distribution Network Operators to disconnect customers.

I have multiple sites – would these be interrupted at the same time?

This will depend on the block letter/alpha identifier – found on the front of your bill or at powercut105.com.

How do I find out when my sites would be interrupted?

The level of interruption would depend on a number of operational factors on the day; including forecast demand and available generation. This level will be announced in the media shortly ahead of implementation. It could vary considerably over time. The rota plan for each level is listed at Annex 2 of the Emergency Code.

Will I receive any compensation?

You are not entitled to compensation from us as your supplier. Due to the emergency nature of the situation, no party could be held responsible for the loss of electricity to customers. Energy UK, the industry trade body, has advised businesses speak to their insurance companies to understand if any losses are covered.