Lights out warning as SSE cuts its power generation

The Independent -

Embarrassment for Osborne after energy giant attacks Government’s ‘lack of

The danger of widespread power cuts in Britain mounted today when a leading energy producer warned it will reduce output by more than 15 per cent – enough electricity for 2 million people – over the next year.

SSE, the big-six energy provider, is cutting back or closing operations at five coal, gas and biomass-fired plants, including Ferrybridge in Yorkshire and Keadby in Lincolnshire, with the loss of 165 jobs. It blamed a new charge next month for emitting carbon, low profit margins and uncertainty around guaranteed payments to gas-fired power stations in the future.

In an embarrassment for George Osborne, who has placed gas power at the centre of his solution to Britain’s looming energy crisis, SSE’s chief executive, Ian Marchant, criticised the Government for giving a “lack of clarity” to investors and utilities looking to build new gas stations or extend the life of existing ones.

“It appears the Government is significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the UK in the next three years and there is a very real risk of the lights going out as a result,” said Mr Marchant, who called for “swift action to provide much greater clarity” to potential investors.

Mr Osborne wants to build as many as 40 new gas-fired plants in the next two decades, while in the Budget he promised incentives to kick-start the UK’s nascent shale gas industry.

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