The Big 6 electricity providers are set to impose a special levy on households deemed to have displays of more than 5 metres of Christmas lighting this year.
The energy companies are concerned that with a colder than usual winter forecast, the supply gap between the amount the UK generates and consumption at peak periods will be below 1% of the total supply capacity, forcing more expensive energy to be bought in from the rest of Europe as an emergency measure.
It’s the time of year when many households decorate the interiors and exteriors of their homes with lighting, and it is feared this contributes significantly to the problem at peak demand times in the evening. Many homes have yet to adopt energy efficient LED lights and are still using older incandescent varieties.
Owen Patterson, a spokesman for the National Grid Company who are reponsible for managing the supply, told the Herald;
“On nights like last night, when the temperature fell in some places to -9 degrees, demand is exceptionally high. People get home from work at roughly the same time, switch on kettles, ovens, heating and lights. And at this time of year all of their Christmas decorations too. Our increasingly stretched generation system struggles to cope so energy has to be imported from abroad at extra cost.”
Energy firms are looking to secure the supply during these peak demand periods, and to do so is costing extra money, so this year they have decided to pass these costs onto the consumers that use the most.
The plan seems to have been approved by the regulator OFGEM. A spokesman told us;
“We understand that people with large amounts of lights already pay for what energy they use, but the extra cost of importing energy is shared by everyone, and that’s hardly fair. So we have agreed a plan with utility suppliers that their meter readers and technical staff can, while going about their normal duties, note the addresses of houses with more than 5 metres of lighting on display, or more than 2 exterior festive friezes. Then using photographic proof these households can incur a levy of up to £10 on this year’s bill. Subject to the extent of the use, and it will be open to an appeals process. This should contribute to our continued energy supply during peak times and lower the risk brownouts, or worse still total blackouts for some areas.”
Some people are seeing the plan as a further attack of the traditions of Christmas in the UK. Paul Nuttal, the new leader of UKIP was first to comment on the plans,
“This is outrageous. A blatant attack on the Christian faith and British families who wish to express that faith by celebrating the birth of our saviour through large festive light displays. In a few years Christmas will only be able to be celebrated behind closed doors. We have instructed our MP to take this up with the Prime Minister at PMQ’s next week.”