I remember as a kid in the 1970s experiencing blackouts. The electricity would suddenly go off and people would reach for their candles. At first, it was annoying but people stoically got used to it and carried on. A dispute was at the heart of the power cuts between the government and energy workers. Eventually, the dispute was settled and the lights came back on without interruption. The dispute brought down the Conservative administration of Edward/Ted Heath. A general election was called and Labour-led by Harold Wilson came to power.
Now it seems according to 'The Times' the country may face power cuts again. The government is apparently drawing up plans for energy rationing. These plans will only be enacted in the most serious scenarios. Up to 6 million homes could be affected by these measures.
Also, this will only happen if Russia cuts off gas and oil supplies to Europe. Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng pointed out that the UK is not as dependent on Russian energy as others in Europe. Mr. Kwarteng has asked fossil fuel power stations to delay closures just in case.
The government has invested £90 billion in renewable energy. The government wants an end to fossil fuels by at least 2024. However, if energy rationing and power cuts come about fossil fuel power stations will be needed.
The possible rationing and power cuts could happen this winter. People have already had enough of this government for one thing or another. According to a survey if there was a general election tomorrow the government would suffer a catastrophic defeat. With some pundits exclaiming that Boris Johnson could lose his seat in the process. If the British public has to put up with power cuts it could be another nail in the Tory coffin.
People in this country especially the poorest are already worrying about burning fuel. As many have pointed out it would be a question of eating or heating. Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a package of measures supposedly to help people with the hike in fuel bills. The package included a one-off payment of £150 to help with Council Tax bills. Also, in October a £200 loan to help with energy bills to be paid back over 3 years.
However, many including the opposition parties said the Chancellor's package was inadequate. Sir Keir Starmer of Labour had suggested a windfall tax on energy companies as they had made a major profit.
The government resisted the call at first but in the end, the government has caved in. Sir Keir predicted that the government would make yet another u-turn. Sure enough, this is exactly what happened as the government scrapped the £200 loan. Now the government is offering instead a £400 grant in October. However, this grant is for people whether they be the poorest or a billionaire. This has come in for very harsh criticism saying why should the richest also get this grant?
Mr. Kwarteng is correct to point out that the UK is not massively dependent on Russian energy. The UK receives only 3% of its gas/oil from Russia. The rest is from North Sea oil fields and natural gas. As stated before the plan of the UK government going forward is for renewable energy by 2024.
The preponderance of shutting down coal-fired power stations is of course a good thing. Fossil fuels are part of the problem causing climate change. The government fears though that if coal power stations delay closing environmental groups could cause trouble. These protest groups like Christian Climate Action, Insulate Britain, etc, do have a point. The government must walk a tightrope it seems on all these issues.