Community Safety KOPS

Emergency Power Cuts. Unlikely, but here’s some useful advice in advance

National Grid ESO has indicated that Emergency Power Cuts are UNLIKELY to happen this winter. We hope this information and the FAQs below provide helpful advice, support, and reassurance so you know what to do if your power supply is ever affected for any reason in the future.

Below is some important advice to support you and some Frequently Asked Questions to help you understand what an Emergency Power Cut is, what it means for our customers and what happens in the energy industry to prevent them. Further information is also available at

Helping you be prepared

  • Ensure you have a backup plan in place if you – or someone you care for – has any electrically powered medical equipment. If you don’t have a plan speak to your local healthcare provider (GP/NHS) for clinical advice – or the equipment provider/manufacturer. Network operators, like Northern Powergrid, cannot do this for you.
  • Regardless of the cause of a power cut, visit our be prepared page to see important advice and know what to do before, during and after a power cut – (Remember an Emergency Power Cut can last at least three hours each time, once or twice a day).
  • Find your block letter now and note it down in a safe place in case you ever need it (it’s an alphabetical letter that indicates where you are connected to our network). You can find it at the top of your energy bill or on During a national energy emergency and planned Emergency Power Cuts, you will also be able to get it by calling 105. A special service would be activated that directs you to where you can hear your block letter or be sent it by text.
  • Visit to see further information including some additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) to those shown below to support you in making plans.
  • If you are not a Priority Services Member visit to find out more and join today online.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are Emergency Power Cuts?

National Emergency Power Cuts are very rare – and unlikely to happen this winter. They would only happen when all other alternatives have been considered or used to deal with a major energy supply shortage and must take place to reduce demand on the country’s power system and fairly share the electricity that is available.

Emergency Power Cuts safely manage your electricity supply in an energy emergency so the situation can be resolved quicker. They can help prevent damage, caused by electricity demand being greater than what’s available, from causing longer-term issues on your local power network which could be even more disruptive for you. If Emergency Power Cuts were ever to take place, typically, you could be without power for at least three hours at a time, once or twice a day.

How would they happen?

National Grid ESO – the company responsible for balancing electricity generated with what customers are expected to use – can instruct network operators like Northern Powergrid to reduce demand on the electricity network by temporarily switching off some customers’ supplies in a safe and controlled way until there is enough electricity for everyone.

We can be instructed at short notice (within 30 minutes); therefore, a rota (timetable) may not take place for the first 48 hours of an emergency and will not be pre-advertised. If Planned Emergency Power Cuts, are required a rota would be published to fairly share the electricity available and help customers plan for when their power may be affected until the situation is safely resolved. In an Emergency Power Cut everyone would not be without power at the same time. A rota helps to share the electricity available, ensure everyone has power for most of the day and reduces disruption as much as possible while the industry works to safely resolve the situation.

For decades the power network in Great Britain has been sectioned into alphabetical blocks that can be used if there was ever a national energy emergency and a Planned Emergency Power Cut Rota was needed. Customers are allocated a ‘block letter’ in the rota, to show if or when their power might be temporarily affected. Every year National Grid ESO and network operators, including Northern Powergrid, test these procedures for Emergency Power Cuts to ensure that we are ready if they were ever needed.

What might happen in an Emergency Power Cut?

It is likely you and your neighbours will be without power together, but this won’t always be the case. The way that the houses on your street are connected to your local power network, may mean you are without power at a different time to those living nearby.

As with any power cut, your appliances, electrically powered medical equipment, lights, gas boilers, heat pumps, broadband, and home phones will not work. Mobile phone service will also be extremely limited and may drop out entirely.

What is done to prevent Emergency Power Cuts?

Emergency Power Cuts are only used when a range of other alternatives have been explored by National Grid ESO. These can include encouraging additional generation to meet demand, asking heavy industrial users to limit their demand during peak periods, asking or paying customers to change how and when they use high energy using appliances (like washing machines, tumble dryers, power showers, dishwashers, and hot tubs), and reducing voltage across the country by a small percentage which is not noticeable to customers.

In a national energy emergency, everyone can potentially play their part by following smart energy saving behaviours like reducing the use of non-critical electrical devices and fully switching off any equipment not in use.

Please share this useful information around your networks and with people you feel might need it.