While Britain experiences almost South Pole levels of cold, gas suppliers cut off supplies to almost 100 companies for the first time in nearly twenty years to ensure the rest of us receive enough to keep us warm.
This has been seized on by the opposition of course who claim that this is proof of an ancient creaking supply system buckling under the strain of the extra work-load.
But it seems that, according to the Guardian, the now 27 remaining companies (such as Vauxhall and British Sugar) whose supplies have been hit had actually received a discount on previous supplies on the basis they could be cut off in extreme circumstances. They possibly took the view that if it was ever that cold their workers wouldn’t be able to make it in anyway and the gas supply would not be needed. They will also have looked at previous trends and conducted a risk/cost analysis of the chances of it happening. In many cases they will have put in contingency plans for alternative energy sources like in-house oil fired generators etc.
Even though supplies have been affected by the Norwegian North Sea gas field ‘Troll’ experiencing production problems, as far as British Gas are concerned supply is not the problem. It is the infrastructure that moves the stuff around the country that is lacking. It does not have the capacity to meet the much increased demand that we have been experiencing.
But all this will have been factored in by the businesses when they signed up for the cheaper gas deals. It is then up to them to have their substitute power source ready to step in. This will keep gas demand within the capabilities of the system so no-one should get cut off.
The alternative would be to carry the financial burden of a gas supply infrastructure that would have to be over-engineered for 99% of the time.