Power disruption and costs
Updated January 2023
Power outages can have a major impact on care providers’ ability to operate effectively. The rising cost of power is also impacting on care providers.
Issues to consider§
Care providers should consider the following questions as part of their business continuity plan. If you answer ‘no’ to several questions and feel that your services are therefore vulnerable, you should revise your business continuity plans and seek further guidance and support. You may, for example, wish to discuss options with your power supplier.
- Do you have provision to maintain the power supply in your facility in the event of an outage?
- Do you have a generator? Is this regularly tested with the normal electricity load
- Does all of your equipment to maintain medical treatment for residents (e.g. dialysis) have battery powered back up in the event on a power failure? Is there any equipment that is solely dependent on mains electricity?
- Do you have alternative plans for the use of equipment that is dependent on electricity in the event of a power outage? For example, how would you evacuate people if the lift did not work?
- Do you have mutual aid plans you could draw from in the event of a long-term power outage?
- Are you already on the Priority Service Register? This can provide you with priority support from your electricity distribution network operator in an emergency. Contact your electricity supplier to discuss.
- Do you have contingency plans for carers to access medical records if these are temporarily unavailable on computers or tablets?
- In the event of a power cut, you can call 105 free. You will be connected to your local electricity network operator's emergency line.
The Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) provides financial assistance on energy bills for all eligible non-domestic customers, including businesses, charities and public sector organisations. This applies to energy use from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023.
Any intermediary that will or has been provided support from the EBRS, must ensure they are passing this support on, in a just and reasonable way, to end users.
Intermediaries may include but are not limited to:
- social housing providers;
- local authorities (for council housing)
- other residential building managers.
An end user is the consumer of energy that is provided by an intermediary on a non-domestic contract.
Care providers – as intermediaries - will be subject to different requirements based on how they provide and charge for heating, hot water and electricity to their end users, i.e. their residents.
The legislation and regulations related to the energy schemes has a requirement for organisations running heat networks (including the intermediaries, which includes many social care organisations) to fill in a notification form.
Care providers should register using the BEIS notification form as soon as possible.
All heat suppliers are required to submit their name, business address and contact details in the Heat Networks Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) pass-through notification form. This is to support the delivery of the investigation and resolution of consumer complaints by the Energy Ombudsman or the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland (CCNI).
Energy Bills Discount Scheme from 1 April 2023 – BEIS
The government has announced that the Energy Bills Relief Scheme will be replaced by the 'Energy Bills Discount Scheme' from 1 April 2023. This will last for 12 months and is seen as a transitional scheme.
Rather than being a cap on the wholesale unit price, it is now a maximum discount per wholesale unit above a certain threshold if our understanding is correct. The total money set aside for the scheme also appears to have been capped at £5.5bn - it's unclear what happens if that amount is breached.
The new scheme will be available to everyone on a non-domestic contract including:
- voluntary sector organisations, such as charities
- public sector organisations
- on existing fixed price contracts that were agreed on or after 1 December 2021
- signing new fixed price contracts
- on deemed/out of contract or shared variable tariffs
- on flexible purchase or similar contracts
- on variable 'Day Ahead Index' (DAI) tariffs (Northern Ireland scheme only)
Eligible non-domestic consumers will now receive a per-unit discount to their energy bills during the 12-month period from April 2023 to March 2024, subject to a maximum discount. The relative discount will be applied if wholesale prices are above a certain price threshold. For most non-domestic energy users in Great Britain and Northern Ireland these maximum discounts have been set at:
- electricity - £19.61 per megawatt hour (MWh) with a price threshold of £302 per MWh.
- gas - £6.97 per MWh with a price threshold of £107 per MWh
The discount is calculated as the difference between the wholesale price associated with an energy contract and the price threshold. The discount is phased in when the contract’s wholesale price exceeds the floor price, until the total discount per MWh reaches the maximum discount for that fuel.
There is a second category for energy intensive industries. These are referred to as Energy and Trade Intensive Industries or ETIIs. Adult social caredoes not fall into this category.
Power cut advice for care homes and assisted living – December 2022 – Energy Networks Association§
The Energy Networks Association has provided power cut information and advice for anyone responsible for running care home services, people who work in a care home setting and those who manage assisted-living residences. This is important to understand in light of the fact that the Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed the care sector is not explicitly eligible to be prioritised for electricity under the Electricity Supply Emergency Code.
The information and advice can be found here.
Please see below for a Briefing Note and Winter Ready Pamphlet that has been prepared by the Energy Networks Association.
Energy Emergencies Executive Committee§
The Energy Emergencies Executive Committee has produced guidance for essential service operators – including care providers, on steps they can take to plan for potential short-term power outages.
The purpose of this document is to provide organisations, particularly those that operate essential services in Great Britain, with guidance to support contingency, continuity and resilience planning for short-term power outages. Essential services are those that the public rely on a daily, or near daily, basis. Disruption to these services could impact the normal patterns of daily lives or the health and safety of the public. Essential services include those that provide health and social care.
This document does not address planning for longer term power outages that could last a few days, or planned power outages such as rota load disconnections.
Covering letter from the Chair of the Energy Emergencies Executive Committee (via the National Grid) outlining the purpose of the guidance on Making you service more resilient to power outages.