When a blackout hit almost 1m British homes and caused travel chaos on Friday, people joked whether someone had tried “turning the UK off and back on again” as if the country was a temperamental computer. Those making the comments on Twitter, playing on the country’s febrile pre-Brexit state, may have provided some gallows humour for those still with enough phone battery to read their musings. But for National Grid, the joke was a reminder that the worst blackout since 2003 came as it faces uncomfortable questions about its monopoly in running a fast-changing electricity system that is moving towards cleaner-burning fuels. The opposition Labour party has called for the company, which was privatised almost 30 years ago, to be brought back under state control. The regulator, Ofgem, has vowed to curb its returns to investors. The company is navigating the government’s highly ambitious overhaul of the country’s energy supplies, which involves dramatically increasing the amount of wind and solar on the grid.
FT 11th Aug 2019 read more »