Energy prices soar by 19% after fire and maintenance shuts down key electricity cable in Kent – Daily Mail

Wholesale electricity prices soared after a fire at a power facility in Kent sparking fears it could cause a rise in energy bills for UK homes. 

National Grid has warned that the fire damaged a major power cable which will remain totally offline until September 25 while while it is expected to remain at partly offline until March, raising fears over tight supplies in the coming months.

Natural gas rose by as much as 18 per cent to 189p per therm after the blaze at the interconnector, which links the British and French power grids.

Meanwhile, British electricity prices jumped by 19 per cent to £475 per megawatt hour (MWh).

The fire took place at in the early hours of Wednesday at Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA), in Sellindge, Kent.

The site was evacuated and it is understood there were no injuries while Kent Fire and Rescue sent 12 crews to the scene and battled the blaze for more than 12 hours.

Energy crisis: Energy bills for UK homes are set to soar this autumn and winter after a fire at a National Grid power facility in Kent (pictured) sent gas prices soaring to record highs

Energy crisis: Energy bills for UK homes are set to soar this autumn and winter after a fire at a National Grid power facility in Kent (pictured) sent gas prices soaring to record highs

Energy crisis: Energy bills for UK homes are set to soar this autumn and winter after a fire at a National Grid power facility in Kent (pictured) sent gas prices soaring to record highs

Two fire engines and one height vehicle remained on site as late as 8pm last night as crews continued dampening down remaining hotspots.

The fire damaged an interconnector running under the English Channel, the National Grid said in a statement.

Electricity interconnectors are high-voltage cables that connect the electricity systems of neighbouring countries, and allow them to share excess power.

The landing point for the subsea cable linking France to the UK is Folkestone, from where underground cables connect to the Sellindge converter station and then onto the UK’s transmission station. 

A spokesperson for National Grid’s electricity system operator, which balances power supplies in the UK, said it expects to “continue supplying electricity safely and securely” despite the incident.

The IFA 1, which was still on fire last night, brings in two megawatts per hour, enough to power 2million homes and more than the total amount generated by wind in the UK. It was working at half-capacity, or just one megawatt per hour, when hit.  

National Grid said the cable will be offline until September and at half capacity until March

National Grid said the cable will be offline until September and at half capacity until March

National Grid said the cable will be offline until September and at half capacity until March

Yesterday the incident intensified a spike in prices, which have already been surging due to a toxic cocktail of lower supplies from Russia, lack of gas in storage in Europe and spiralling prices for liquefied gas shipped in ocean tankers.

The 189p per therm is more than double the amount paid two months ago, and a fourfold increase on September 2020.

The price crunch is likely to pile pressure on families and companies during a crucial period of the post-Covid recovery.

Bills for domestic customers not on fixed tariffs could jump, though those on standard tariffs may not see a rise until the price cap is reviewed next spring.

But energy-heavy businesses such as manufacturers are feeling the heat, warning that companies are being forced to temporarily suspend production and could need to ration power.

It has also raised concerns about supplies. The coal station West Burton A was fired up earlier this month to meet electricity needs after a drop in wind.

Experts have warned bills for domestic customers not on fixed tariffs could jump in months, though those on standard tariffs may not see a rise until the price cap is reviewed next spring

Experts have warned bills for domestic customers not on fixed tariffs could jump in months, though those on standard tariffs may not see a rise until the price cap is reviewed next spring

Experts have warned bills for domestic customers not on fixed tariffs could jump in months, though those on standard tariffs may not see a rise until the price cap is reviewed next spring

National Grid said: ‘Our investigation is ongoing and we will update the market with any changes as necessary.’

But Tom Edwards, of Cornwall Insight, warned that ‘if anything goes wrong, we might not have anything left in the back pocket’.

He added: ‘If a nuke trips offline or something else big, that could cause issues because we might not have anything to replace it.’

Verity Davidge, director of policy at manufacturers’ association Make UK, said unprecedented energy costs ‘risk putting the brakes on any recovery’.

Davidge added: ‘Around two-thirds of manufacturers are saying they are now feeling the impact of energy price rises which when combined with inflation burdens, increased cost of raw material and wage pressures are coming together into a perfect storm to halt the green shoots of recovery so desperately needed in the sector.’

Gareth Stace, director general of UK Steel, said extortionate power prices were already forcing some steel makers to suspend their operations.

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