[P]AUL STAINTON: Would you stop using electricity if you were rewarded with a bit of cash? Well the National Grid has suggested large business consumers could be asked to lower use on weekday afternoons. So could this be the start of the lights going out? Well Adam Kirtley is here from our business unit. Morning Adam
ADAM KIRTLEY: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Ofgen are saying what? Please turn off your lights? Or turn off your machines?
ADAM KIRTLEY: It’s not really you and me. To ensure that you and me can boil our kettle in Soham, or Peterborough, of an evening, in the winter, it may be that some of the big consumers of electricity, factories et cetera, may be paid to not use so much, in other words to close early, or to stop producing.
PAUL STAINTON: So rationing for businesses.
ADAM KIRTLEY: Yes, but voluntarily. They’d be paid. They’d be rewarded for doing it. So you say look, instead of closing at seven, seven o’clock shift, you could close at six. Because everyone wants to boil their kettle and bath their children at that time of the evening on a cold November night. So it’s basically looking at .. that’s the supply side. It’s saying to big businesses, potentially, by 2015/2016, will you do that. And on the demand side, it’s also saying we know we’ve mothballed that nasty old coal fired power station, because we want to be environmentally friendly, but actually, shall we actually bring it back into service? Is there a way of taking some of these power stations and flipping a switch that brings them back into generating in extremis. So it’s looking at the gap between supply and demand, and working out ways of making sure that they can fill that gap, and therefore you and I can boil our kettles.
PAUL STAINTON: This seems pretty desperate though, doesn’t it?
ADAM KIRTLEY: Well it is extraordinary. Ofgen has been saying for a while that demand is outstripping supply in terms of what we’re doing with our power station network. Now evidently, you know, environmental reasons, global warming, all of those Kyoto agreements et al, means that we’ve got to stop spewing stuff into the atmosphere, and therefore a lot of power stations, coal fired ones, are being closed, some ahead of schedule, which given the shortage seems a bit weird, but there you go. But the trouble is Paul we’ve not been building nuclear power stations fast enough. They’re not going to come on stream fast enough to replace the capacity. And Ofgen is saying actually, it’s worse than we thought, and we could be down to 2% margin of error by 2015/2016.
PAUL STAINTON: Wow. Surely this could have been predicted, couldn’t it? Surely somebody ought to had their finger on the pulse here.
ADAM KIRTLEY: As my mother used to say Paul, that ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no need for tinkers. You’re right. Why wasn’t it predicted? Well it was predicted, but it just seems to be a little bit worse than we thought. Now what they’re saying is, down to 2% if demand goes on. Now what we don’t know is, you know, where in the biggest economic downturn in a hundred years. What if by 2015/2016 things are getting much much better? Demand goes up, factories want to make more things. I think what it’s saying is, if there was an unholy marriage of the supply and demand, would we be able to cope. I think that’s what it’s trying to say.
PAUL STAINTON: Ok. Adam, thank you very much for that. Interesting idea though, isn’t it, that you should ration your electricity in the afternoon, and get paid some money for it. Would you think about doing that? Turning off your lights, turning off your TV, turning off your electric in the afternoon, if you were given a couple of quid?