Today we address public concerns surrounding energy supply and availability throughout the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Afraid of the Dark
Coronavirus has been a source of great uncertainty for us all, not mitigated by the official foot-dragging approach to lockdown that left many vulnerable workers exposed to financial hardship. The ongoing situation has threatened many businesses and individuals both fiscally and physically, fortunately we now have a clearer sense of policy as well as an extremely generous budget to assuage some of those early fears.
Several crucial questions remain however, mostly logistical in nature, and one of them surrounds the supply of electricity throughout the U.K. The energy sector relies on a pool of technical expertise needed to keep the juice flowing, unfortunately the indiscriminate nature of the virus indicates that no sector is safe from potential workforce disruption.
However, national Grid ESO Director Fintan Sly is confident that fuel appetites may follow a downward trend many were not expecting:
“In fact, demand across the country is expected to reduce; largely owing to a decrease in energy use from industrial consumers, which is likely to be greater than the increase in domestic demand as people stay at home.”
-Fintan Sly, Director of National Grid ESO
Despite these expectations, the grid is still subject to delay or disruption if the available workforce has to undergo self-isolation or quarantine, potentially in numbers as great as 80%. As such additional preventative measures are being employed both by the ESO and the ENA (Energy Networks Association) to afford the best possible protection to their employees.
ESO are, of course, adhering to the most current governmental guidelines regarding working from home and given staff this option wherever possible. In addition, they have established fully operational back-up control centres and are cross-training engineers across multiple roles. ESO has also ceased all visitor access to their control rooms.
The ENA has also prepared back-up centres, in the event that deep cleaning should be necessary, however they have also engaged in a more collaborative approach directly with consumers:
“We are asking customers who are either self-isolating or have a confirmed case of the coronavirus and need an engineer to attend their property, to ensure they tell their energy network operator before any visit so that appropriate precautionary arrangements can be put in place.”
– David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association
This invitation to adopt personal responsibility is a masterstroke on behalf of ENA, while simultaneously enlisting members of the public in their own safety, they are also promoting a positive example for other bodies to follow.