“We’ll be OK over winter” says National Grid boss

The Chief Executive of the National Grid responded to fears we may face power cuts because of power plant closures today by saying the country will be “OK” during winter. […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The Chief Executive of the National Grid responded to fears we may face power cuts because of power plant closures today by saying the country will be “OK” during winter.

Steve Holliday told BBC Radio 5live: “The stark facts are that we’ve shut a lot of generation down in the UK in the last few years.

“So the margin we’ve got of the maximum amount of supply that can be produced over the maximum demand that we might have in a very cold, dark, miserable winter’s night is lower than it was a few years ago.”

The National Grid man added: “But we got through that last winter and we put some new measures in place with the support of government and Ofgem for this winter. Which means that if things behave as you’d expect them to behave then we should be OK.”

Admitting “it doesn’t” sound like a ringing endorsement of the grid, he defended the grid: “I always say that no-one can ever cast-iron guarantee something. It’s always been the case even when there’s a huge margin if five big power stations across the UK decide to shut down at the same time, we’ve clearly got a problem.”

“That’s true in every country in the world but as we go into this winter with the new mechanisms in place, we’re comfortable that we should be able to handle the mix here, the balance between supply and demand.”

Mr Holliday was promoting a scheme called Careers Lab to boost the number of youngsters getting into STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

A Careers Lab session at Hodge Hill sports and enterprise college in Birmingham. Image: Charles Geater / National Grid
A Careers Lab session at Hodge Hill sports and enterprise college in Birmingham. Image: Charles Geater / National Grid

Schools struggled to find space on their timetables for careers help and he said government needed to change this emphasis.

Mr Holliday explained: “What’s being measured in schools of course is academic qualifications. Rightly so but we are calling that the attention we’ve got to increase the metrics on other destinations should be increased. So schools are measured half on academic qualifications and another half on the destinations that kids end up at.”

He said there young people were making choices with “no information” available.