Millions of families will be paid to use less electricity under National Grid plans aimed at preventing blackouts, according to reports.
The power company is understood to be working on a new scheme that would pay households through their smart meters to reduce usage. It is hoped the plans, first reported The Times, will help to ration electricity this winter amid fears Russia will cut off gas supplies to Europe.
As part of the plan, run by National Grid’s electricity system operator (ESO), households would be paid around £6 for each kilowatt-hour they save during peak times. Households normally pay 28.34p for each kilowatt-hour of energy they use.
This would theoretically incentivise households to prioritise energy-hungry activities, such as running a washing machine, tumble dryer or cooking, at off-peak hours.
It comes as the govenrment has drawn up possible plans to ration electricity this winter if Russia cuts off gas supplies to Europe over the war in Ukraine.
A “reasonable worst case scenario” has been modelledwhich would see six million households suffering from power cuts in the winter months when energy usage is higher.
The situation has already prompted business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to ask Britain’s coal-fired power stations to delay their planned closures.
National Grid ESO previously trialled a scheme in which 100,000 Octopus Energy customers received money for cutting down their energy use and has written to other energy providers to gauge interest in the plan.
During the trial, customers were urged to reduce energy consumption between the peak hours of 4.30pm and 6.30pm. Some people saved as much as £4.35 over the two hour period.
The cost of the proposed scheme would be levied on household bills.
A spokeswoman for National Grid ESO told The Times: “Demand shifting has the potential to save consumers money, reduce carbon emissions and offer greater flexibility on the system.”
The Independent has approached National Grid ESO for further comment.