‘Lights will not go out’

South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes has defended the Government over allegations that “there is a very real risk of the lights going out in Britain”.

Mr Hayes, in his role as energy minister, said the country’s energy situation was “currently comfortable” after the boss of energy company SSE made the claim that the government was significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the country.

Ian Marchant was commenting on SSE’s decision to cut back on power generation at five sites.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has also warned of an increased risk of a blackout after predicting power station closures could mean a ten per cent fall in capacity by April.

SSE points out that Ofgem did not take account of its plans to cut power generation when that warning was issued in February – making the situation even more stark.

Ofgem’s chief executive Alistair Buchanan said Britain “would be very tight on power station capacity in three to five years’ time”.

John Hayes said: “We’re alive to the challenge facing us. The Bill before Parliament will set the condition for the investment needed to keep Britain’s lights on in the long term.

“The amount of spare power available today is currently comfortable.

“As old infrastructure closes over the coming years, we expect this margin to reduce but we will make sure it stays manageable.

“We are not complacent about this, which is why we have an insurance policy – the capacity market.

“We’re considering how and when this can best be used to bring about any necessary increase in supply or reduction in demand.

“We are confident in our approach and in the responsiveness of the market in providing secure power supplies.”