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Helping keep the lights on throughout Coronavirus

Helping keep the lights on throughout Coronavirus

Throughout the lockdown, the people at client National Grid Electricity System Operator have continued to work hard to make sure the lights stay on, and we’ve been proud to play our part.

The particular challenge of the lockdown is managing unusual periods of low electricity demand across the country, caused by so many businesses and factories reducing their consumption dramatically as a result of closing. That can mean electricity being produced which can’t find a use, causing the system to become out of balance – a reverse of the problem that arises when we foresee a reduced margin of available power being generated onto the system to meet expected demand, typically at peak times.

Whatever the challenges, National Grid Electricity System Operator’s skilled engineers monitor and manage the system second by second, 24/7, so that the frequency and voltage levels stay within stable ranges, and the power keeps flowing to our homes and businesses. And they do this using many of the contractual products that we have been drafting for them for many years now, under which generating plant as well as business and factories can provide a range of services to National Grid ESO to assist in this activity.

In this period of lockdown, three of our senior energy contracts and regulatory lawyers – Andrew Whitehead, Mark Bartholomew and Chandni Ruparelia – have worked with National Grid ESO to help enhance its suite of balancing services contracts so that it has all the tools it needs during this lockdown period to manage the implications of low system demand on the smooth running of our power network.

This work included the development and launch of two new contractual tools that will be available for National Grid ESO’s control room to draw upon over the summer period, if needed.

  • A new voluntary service, called Optional Downward Flexibility Management. This is designed as a new market place to enable largely small scale renewable generators to receive payments from National Grid ESO if asked to reduce their output. By reducing the amount of electricity supplied at the local distribution level, this gives additional options to National Grid ESO for managing the transmission network which ensures that power can be transported up and down the country to wherever it is needed.
  • We supported National Grid ESO on a one-off fixed term contract with EDF to reduce output from the Sizewell B nuclear power station, as a more cost efficient alternative to making daily payments to reduce output via the balancing mechanism and providing additional options for National Grid ESO when managing stability, frequency and voltage on the system.

We worked intensively with National Grid ESO and its in-house legal team to deliver these new contracts on time, and they look set to play a useful role as National Grid ESO continues to work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we can all continue to boil our kettles and turn on our TVs during this difficult lockdown period.

Read more here about how National Grid is helping the industry through COVID-19.

Contact us
For further information please contact Andrew Whitehead or another member of the energy team.

For legal support in relation to the coronavirus or any other matter, get in touch with your team today

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