What you need to know about power cuts and rota disconnections

23 December 2022

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What you need to know about power cuts and rota disconnections

Need quick access to your rota block disconnection code? Find it on our Emergencies page under ‘What should I do in a power cut?’.

Amid all the media coverage of the energy crisis, you may have seen talk of planned emergency power cuts this winter. When you have a business to run, this kind of news isn’t exactly ideal. But we’re here to tell you not to worry.

The energy industry has plans in place to deal with the unlikely event of a national energy shortage this winter. That includes a full Rota Disconnection Schedule to minimise disruption and ensure that available energy is evenly distributed across different industry sectors – more on this later.

Below, we’ll talk you through what these planned power cuts involve, why they happen, and what you can do to prepare for them should they take place. We’ll also fill you in on what you can expect from us in the event of scheduled rota disconnections coming into effect.

What is a rota disconnection?

Rota disconnections are planned emergency power cuts designed to manage reduced energy supplies. They’re scheduled by the National Grid on an area-by-area basis, with businesses typically losing power for around three hours at predefined times.

Through its nationwide Rota Disconnection Schedule, the Grid is able to manage energy reserves while ensuring fair distribution and minimal disruption.

Why do rota disconnections happen?

First and foremost, we should stress that rota disconnections are very rare. They’re only used as an absolute last resort when all other options – such as turning down industrial demand and voltage reduction – have failed to restore stability to the network.

So, in what scenario might rota disconnections come into effect?

Well, if the UK’s energy reserves were severely impacted by global shortages, this could result in rota disconnections – particularly at times of the year when demand for energy is at its highest.

On this point, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) outlined a worst-case scenario: in the event of a very cold period which would greatly reduce gas supplies from Europe (and therefore the generation of electricity), there would be a need for these emergency disconnections.

Where to find out about rota disconnections?

Because the Government has the final say on rota disconnections, it would use national television, radio and social media channels to let customers know of the rota disconnection level.

You can also check the times of disruption against your corresponding rota disconnection code. This code is allocated by your postcode.

Rota disconnection codes – which are also known as ‘block letters’ or ‘alpha identifiers’ – are available to view at powercut105.com; just type your business’ postcode into the Find Your Network Operator section. This provides you with a timetable informing you of when you’ll be without power, as well as when there’s a risk that you might be without power.

Please note that your power might be switched off or reconnected around 30 minutes before or after the published time, depending on national power use at that time. This is because of the need to phase disconnections and reconnections which results in a short overlap.

As your supplier, we’re obligated to support you in the following ways too:

  • Informing you of your rota block disconnection code (which you can find on your electricity invoice or under ‘What should I do in a power cut?’ on our Emergencies page here)
  • Registering eligible customers on a Priority Services Register (PSR) – a free service for customers, including businesses, that are medically or otherwise dependent on continuity of supply.

If you feel your business is eligible for the Priority Services Register, please let us know by completing this form.

Is anyone exempt from emergency power cuts?

Yes, some sites are protected from emergency planned power cuts. These include critical national infrastructure, such as air traffic control centres and major hospital facilities that have accident and emergency departments.

Will I receive any compensation?

Unfortunately, no, you are not entitled to compensation. Due to the emergency nature of the situation, nobody would be held responsible for the loss of power to customers.

However, Energy UK – the industry trade body – suggests speaking to your insurance company to understand if any losses are covered.

What you can do to prepare?

As we noted, rota disconnections are rare. But in the event that they do happen, being prepared is important.

Keep your business up and running by making a note of the following preparation tips…

  • Consult your business continuity plan. Are there any preparations to put in place if you lose power?
  • Check your site for emergency back-up power arrangements. Have they recently been inspected and tested?
  • If your site has no back-up power, then you can prepare in other ways. For starters, you might advise your employees to work from home. If you’re using laptops and mobile phones, then make sure they’re fully charged and capable of working without a charger for extended periods of time. Lastly, use temporary or battery lighting if needed.
  • Keep a note of key contacts. Along with medical facilities and local authorities, save 105, the free national power cut emergency number, and 0800 111 999, the free national gas emergency number, to your phone.
  • Update your mobile number with us so we can text you with information concerning your power being turned off.
  • If you have any onsite medical equipment that requires electricity, then you should check back-up equipment is in full working order.

SEFE Energy is committed to guiding its customers through the ongoing energy crisis. Visit our dedicated hub for further information and advice.

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