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UK’s recent blackout places National Grid under scrutiny [free access]

August 12, 2019

The United Kingdom’s (UK) most severe blackout on August 8, 2019 has pushed its power operator, National Grid, under renewed political scrutiny. It has raised pressure on the grid operator as it braces for potentially significant cuts to its regulated incomes, and being taken back into public ownership.


Reportedly, the outrage occurred due to the dropping down of frequency below the grid’s safety limits, owing to simultaneous outages at two power plants namely, the Little Barford gas-fired power plant and the Hornsea offshore wind farm.


According to news reports, the power outage further lays doubt on the National Grid’s competence in meeting and managing the evolving power network, ever more dominated by renewables.


Moreover, the UK energy regulator, Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), has asked National Grid to give a detailed report into what went wrong, while the government has announced a separate inquiry. The network company could even see a fine of up to 10 per cent of its total revenues, although this would require opening a formal investigation first. The fine would only apply to the electricity system operator (ESO), National Grid, a regulated part of the group that manages the supply and demand, but is legally separate from National Grid Transmission, which owns and operates the physical network infrastructure.