When is your power going off?

Apparently things are not as they once were. The world is changing. Or at least in a supposedly first world country, we have been told that there may be times when it is needed to ration power. They would not tell you this if they did not clearly foresee a time in the future when there would not be enough power in the grid to meet demand. 2023 and they have brought back a system of rationing. What a time to be alive.

500kV 3-Phase Transmission Lines
Varistor60, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The power companies have told you that you may lose power for a likely period of three hours, which may happen more than once per day depending on the seriousness of the situation, but not everyone will have a power cut at the same time. It will be spread over a rota system to reduce disruption and to make it ‘fair’ for everyone. They do this because we’re British, we understand ‘fair’. Never mind that our forebears lived hard lives and died earlier than they otherwise would have in order to make sure their children could live in a country where this sort of thing didn’t happen.

So, when is your power going off? The way it works is the whole country is divided up into load blocks, by something called ‘alpha identifiers’. Every postcode is assigned a block letter. There are 18 of them, letters A to U except F, I and O. You can find yours by entering your postcode here (link: https://www.powercut105.com/FindOperator)

These different alpha identifiers are not assigned according to a particular region of the country, as a consequence two postcodes hundreds of miles apart can have the same alpha identifier. If the national grid deems it necessary, they will cut off power to all of the postcodes with the same alpha identifier according to a rota system, depending on the seriousness of the situation, a different rota system will apply.

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Each day is divided into 8 periods of three hours each, starting at 00:30, so period 1 will be 00:30 to 03:30. Period 2 is 03:30 to 06:30. And so on. You get the idea.

For the least serious (Level 1 Disconnection) event needing power rationing, if it is say, Monday, people living in load block A will be cut off for three hours from 00:30 until 03:30, then they will be turned back on and it will be the turn of people living in zone block D from 03:30 to 06:30, and so on and so forth. Different postcodes get assigned a different rationing schedule for each period according to the day of the week.

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This rota doesn’t apply to important locations that really can’t do without a round the clock power supply. These are called Protected Sites, and are things like power stations, airports, large railway stations, hospitals etc, but it certainly doesn’t apply to members of the public, no matter how ‘vulnerable’ might be – if you are for example dependent on electrically powered medical equipment in your home, you are advised to obtain a backup power supply.

There are various levels of disconnection from 1-18 depending on severity – at Level 1, the rota applies to only one zone at a time, at Level 2, two zones at a time, at Level 18, all 18 zones – everyone in the country has their power off indefinitely.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

Once you have looked up your alpha identifier, match it to the rota above or here (pdf link: ELECTRICITY SUPPLY EMERGENCY CODE (ESEC))

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