Energy firms urge people to turn off their electricity for a couple of hours tonight as snow blankets UK – LBC

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12 December 2022, 14:45 | Updated: 12 December 2022, 15:38
By Emma Soteriou
Energy firms have urged people to turn off their electricity for a couple of hours tonight amid the freezing weather conditions.
Customers will be asked to limit their use of electricity and gas for two hours after temperatures plummeted as low as -15.6C.
The National Grid is running a planned test which will see households paid to cut their energy use between 5pm and 7pm – the period in which record prices are expected during peak demand hours.
Octopus Energy, Drax and Eon are all taking part in the scheme, in a bid to avoid potential blackouts throughout the rest of the winter months.
So far, National Grid's Electricity System Operator wing has run four one-hour trials of the so-called demand flexibility service. But tonight will mark the first two-hour session.
Read more: Hundreds of passengers stranded at Stansted Airport after flights severely delayed after snow
Read more: Energy regulator Ofgem "extremely concerned" as almost 200 people left without gas for a week
Households and businesses which reduce their electricity consumption will be paid for every unit they do not use.
Octopus customers have been the most active among the suppliers offering the service.
The firm said the top households in the scheme have saved as much as £20 since it launched a little over a month ago.
"This is a massive milestone. Across just four hours, we've been able to pay out £1 million to our customers," said Alex Schoch, head of flexibility at Octopus.
"Normally, this money would have gone to businesses or dirty gas power plants to balance energy demand. Instead, it's helping people lower their energy bills this winter.
"We are proud to have pioneered this trailblazing scheme, which is paving the way towards a smarter, greener and cheaper grid for all.
"And we're glad that other energy suppliers are now getting involved, allowing even more people to grab a bargain and lower bills for everyone."
Meanwhile, National Grid has stood down two coal plants that it had on standby to generate electricity in case supplies were disrupted.
The company had asked Drax, which owns Britain's biggest power station in North Yorkshire, to prepare two coal-fired units on Monday.
But they have been cancelled due to high output from wind and nuclear, reducing the chance of energy shortages.
It said households should "continue to use energy as normal".
It comes as commuters are set to face travel hell on their journeys home tonight, with disruption expected on roads, railways and runways.
The knock-on effect of the cold snap has seen flights axed, sections of motorway closed for several hours and trains halted.
Drivers on northern sections of the M25 were stranded for several hours as traffic was at a standstill.
The UK's busiest motorway was closed in both directions between Junction 23 for South Mimms and Junction 25 for Waltham Cross, in Hertfordshire, on Monday morning.
National Highways said the closure was caused by "snow and jack-knifed lorries".
Those travelling to UK airports have been urged to check their travel plans and flight status with their airline before setting off too.
Several Tube lines have also faced severe delays throughout the day.
The worst affected routes appeared to be those with extensive sections of overground track, as icy rails caused havoc across nearly every line.
And conditions are only set to get worse with a rail strike set to wreak havoc on Tuesday too.
Parts of the UK will continue to be beset by snow and ice on Tuesday – with the potential for the country to experience the coldest night of the year for a second day running.
The Met Office has issued a yellow snow and ice warning covering northern Scotland and north-east England from midnight on Tuesday until noon on Thursday.
A separate snow and ice warning covers the Shetland Islands until midnight tonight.
There is also an ice warning covering much of the South East, including London and Brighton until 11am on Tuesday.
Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said there will be heavy snow in some places again on Tuesday.
"Coming into force at midnight tonight all the way through to lunchtime on Thursday, (there is a) large snow and ice warning covering the North East of England, the whole sort of northern portion of Scotland, as well as the Highlands and islands," he said.
He added that there could be "as much as 15 to 20 centimetres of snow accumulating over high ground".
Mr Claydon said northern Scotland could record even colder temperatures on Tuesday after breaking the record for the coldest night of the year on Monday.
"In terms of temperature, we could see another very cold night, especially in parts of Scotland where we've got that lying snow," he said.
"We saw minus 15C last night. We could see similar or potentially even colder tonight under clear skies with that snowfall lying in some places.
"So a very cold night there but also broadly very cold across the whole of the UK, with widespread freezing conditions."
Mr Claydon urged commuters across the UK to "leave a little bit more time" if driving and to travel with "a bit of extra caution".
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