Stripping National Grid of its responsibility for keeping the lights on would cause “massive” disruption to the wider energy industry, its boss has claimed. The utility giant is under scrutiny after blackouts on August 9 and Kwasi Kwarteng, the energy minister, said last week the government would look again at whether it should keep its role as Britain’s Electricity System Operator (ESO). Speaking to The Times shortly before Mr Kwarteng’s comments, John Pettigrew, National Grid’s chief executive, insisted the current construct was a “sensible structure both for the industry and National Grid”. Mr Pettigrew, 50, said there would be “a massive amount of disruption in the industry if you move to an independent system operator”. National Grid is a FTSE 100 group with operating profits of £3.4 billion last year from Britain and America. Its most high-profile role is the ESO, running the control room that manages power supply and demand in real-time. MPs called three years ago for it to be stripped of the ESO role over potential conflicts of interest, suggesting it could use the influential role to benefit its other British operations. It also runs the high-voltage power networks in England and Wales and has a growing commercial division building “interconnector” power cables with the Continent. National Grid, which has always denied a conflict of interest, was ultimately spared a break-up with the ESO instead becoming a legally separate part of the group from April. The company is under investigation by Ofgem after Britain’s worst blackouts in a decade on August 9, which left a million homes without power. Mr Kwarteng told the Financial Times that a separate government review into the incident would consider whether the ESO should be separated.
Times 9th Sept 2019 read more »