Electricity system operator National Grid ESO has contingency plans to house staff for its two control rooms locally to ensure continued operation, it said. It is also retraining staff to “support the shift rota”. The plans emerged in a briefing on how the electricity system operator was managing the Covid-19 crisis.
The ESO has already separated operation-critical activities and allocated staff between the two independent control rooms, so there is no overlap. Offline staff, such as planners, are working from home and in communication with control room operators by large screens, while operators in the control room are maintaining social distance.
National Grid said operation was currently “within the normal operational envelope”. Demand was around 15% below normal last week. It expected it to be 20% below normal as a result of the ‘lockdown’ and to fall still further after the clocks change at the weekend. At this stage it has not contracted for more back-up, and it has not seen significant outages from generators (due to illness or self-isolation of key staff) but it stressed the importance of generators and other parties providing “accurate and timely” information about whether they could operate as planned.
Regular tenders for ancillary services are proceeding as planned and the SO said it was in contact with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to ensure arrangements for services such as black start are robust.
Meanwhile, transmission network operators have delayed network maintenance work that would have taken some circuits out of action, which will give the SO more options in routing power and balancing the system.
National Grid Gas Transmission, meanwhile, said it would contact stakeholders “to understand your requirements as we look to prioritise critical work to maintain reliability of supply”. It added, “All our operational sites are secure, with a wide range of existing resilience and security measures, including full operational back-up locations and engineers trained across multiple roles.”