Greater Manchester could face planned three-hour blackouts

Greater Manchester could see planned three-hour blackouts as demand for electricity increases over the winter months. Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to the supply of gas and electricity becoming more uncertain – sparking concerns for the colder months ahead when demand for energy inevitably begins to increase. Local leaders say planned power cuts are ‘unlikely’ but, should they be needed, would probably take place once a day in the early evening. Some charities dealing with critically ill people have raised concerns. The Greater Manchester Resilience Forum, which oversees the conurbation’s emergency planning, says the plan would not involve the whole region going off at once and a few days’ notice would also be expected. Assistant Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry, chair of the GM Resilience Forum says those who are ‘medically dependent’ on electricity – such as people reliant on dialysis or oxygen machines – should already have back-up plans in place. They are also encouraged to Electricity North West’s free extra care register for additional support. Energy firms such as ENW are required to liaise with councils and the resilience forum to share information about vulnerable customers and work together to provide welfare support. But Kidney Care UK, the country’s leading kidney patient support charity, says it still has real concerns. Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, said: “Thousands of people undertake their life-saving dialysis treatment at home because this works for them and is medically the best treatment option for them. “This is very energy intensive, generating substantial electricity and water costs. Interruption to the power supply would put the treatment itself at risk. “We are concerned that the needs of kidney patients are not being fully understood or considered in any advance planning that is being undertaken by utility companies, the NHS, the National Grid, and the government.” Electricity North West says it has dedicated people that work with the resilience forum to prioritise resources in emergency planning and during incidents. Kidney Care UK believes more needs to be done to keep people safe. Ms Loud added: “We need to know what the contingency plans are for these individuals so that they can be assured that their health and well-being, as well as their life-saving treatment, will not be disrupted by unplanned and potentially dangerous power outages.” The charity advises all kidney patients to contact the Priority Services Register (PSR) for their utilities to ensure that they are registered so that any specific power needs they have can be supported, But when it asked its supporters if they were registered, only 33pc said they were. Ms Loud added: “It is clear that more needs to be done, so we are calling on utility companies to work with us to ensure that every kidney patient gets the support and consistent supply they need.” Cllr Andy Morgan is Bolton’s cabinet member for adult social care and also runs a care home in the borough. While he stresses planned blackouts are ‘very unlikely’ he says that ‘obviously there is a concern’ for people – particularly those who rely on hospital-grade air mattresses to stop them getting pressure sores or suffering skin breakdown. “Special beds circulate air around beds so they are not lying in the same position, that means they will not get tissue breakdown,” he said. “If the power goes off and those beds fail they would have to be moved on to memory foam or normal mattresses, that could affect tissue viability after a couple of hours.” He also echoes Ms Loud in urging vulnerable people to register with their electricity provider to ensure they receive the extra support they need. Assistant Chief Constable Wasim Chaudhry, chair of the GM Resilience Forum said leaders were not expecting to see emergency planned power cuts this winter due to the ‘secure, reliable and diverse national energy system’. He added: “In the unlikely event that emergency planned power cuts are needed, National Grid would inform local electricity network operators, including Electricity North West, to prepare for rolling three-hour power cuts across the region for individual areas, perhaps once a day in the early evening. It would not involve the whole country, region or cities going off at once, and we would expect to get a few days’ notice. “People who are medically-dependent on electricity should already have plans to cope with power cuts, which can happen at any time, and if you use particular medical equipment ensure that you have a back-up or speak with your provider. “Network operators are required in an emergency to liaise with Local Authorities and local resilience forum partners like the Greater Manchester Resilience Forum to share information about vulnerable customers and work together to provide welfare support.” Customers in vulnerable circumstances can join Electricity North West’s free extra care register for additional help and support. While joining the register does not protect customers from any type of power cuts, they will receive tailored communications to keep them informed. Further information can be found at

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Published on : 2022-12-03 05:00:00

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