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Written Parliamentary Questions 19th October 2005

Gas and Electricity
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what demand modelling he has performed to examine the interplay between gas and electricity generation in the event of a one in 20 cold winter. (John Hemming)

A: The Department has not undertaken demand modelling to examine the interplay between gas and electricity. This is undertaken by National Grid, as system operator. National Grid's consideration of the interaction between gas and electricity can be found in Section C of its Winter Outlook Report, published on 5 October: (Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister)


National Grid I
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the impact of a reduction in the voltage on the national grid in the event of a one in 50 cold winter on (a) domestic and (b) commercial consumers. (John Hemming)

A: If voltage demand measures were needed to handle a short-term electricity shortage the most likely visible impact on consumers would be a slight dimming of lights and kettles would take longer to boil. Some sensitive, mainly commercial and industrial, electronic systems may be affected e.g. fire alarms. Demand restraint measures of this nature would mostly happen during the morning and evening peak demand periods. (Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister)

National Grid II
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to what level the voltage on the national grid may be reduced in the event of a one in 50 cold winter. (John Hemming)

A: Under the terms of the Grid Code, National Grid can direct Distributed Network Operators to implement short-term demand reduction measures. The Distributed Network Operators have a number of different tools available to deal with a request of this nature; these include short-term disconnection, interrupting supply to those customers whose contracts permit it or the use of voltage reductions. The severity of the situation would decide which of these measures were appropriate.
However this is a very short-term measure that can only address an emergency situation. In a long-term shortage of supply incident other demand restraint measures would be utilised. (Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister)

Natural Gas
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what contingency plans are in place to deal with a possible shortage of natural gas during the winter of 2005–06; and what significant methods are available, in addition to limiting electricity generation, to reduce natural gas consumption. (John Hemming)

A: In the first instance the Government would expect demand for gas to reduce itself in response to price signals indicating tightness in the balance between supply and demand in the gas market. This has already been observed in previous winters, mostly from electricity generation but also, to a lesser extent, from large industrial users of gas. The scope for additional demand reduction from this sector was explored in a report, "Estimation of Industrial Buyers' Potential Demand Response to Short Periods of High Gas & Electricity Prices: A report to the DTI and Ofgem by Global Insight", which is available from the DTI website under

http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/publications/policy/index.shtml

The Government and Ofgem have been working with large industrial users to encourage the provision of more timely and easily accessible information to help market participants to identify commercial opportunities for such demand-side response.

In the extremely unlikely event of the situation deteriorating to the point where the market is no longer able to balance itself, powers to restrict gas supply are available to the national emergency co-ordinator at National Grid and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State under applicable legislation. (Malcolm Wicks, Energy Minister)


Congestion/Pollution
Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research has been commissioned on the effects on levels of (a) congestion and (b) carbon emissions of the closure of local (i) post offices, (ii) banks and (iii) shops. (John Hemming)

A: No such specific research has been commissioned. (Stephen ladyman, Minister for Transport)

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