European countries are now scrambling for gas to last them through the winter, after Russia throttled supplies as part of its strategy of economic warfare in response to western support for Ukraine.
In response to supply fears, energy giant Centrica – which owns British Gas – has reached a 15-year deal to import ships full of liquid natural gas from the US.
The company said it would buy a million tonnes per year from 2026 as part of the contract with the Delfin Deepwater Port off the coast of Louisiana.
Plans drawn up by the Business Department revealed that the UK could be hit by shortages of up to a sixth of peak demand for electricity in a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ this winter.
Energy bosses have been summoned to a Number 10 crisis meeting amid warnings that supply issues could cause blackouts – as Martin Lewis warned Britain faces a ‘cataclysm’ that ‘risks lives’ if bills more than double as expected.
Energy sector representatives have been summoned by ministers for crisis talks on Thursday after consultancy firm Cornwall Insight forecast the price cap would hit more than £4,200 in January – up from £1,971 today.
Money campaigner Lewis says ‘What Britain facing here is a financial emergency that risks lives’.
He also warned that families paying £100 in bills now face shelling out £215 by January, as he called for immediate action to avert the ‘terrible cataclysmic risk millions of people face this winter’.
Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak has pledged more cash support for households, while his rival Liz Truss has previously dismissed more ‘handouts’ and said she will cut taxes instead.
Commenting on their proposals, Lewis said ‘ Sunak will effectively need to double every number in his previous support package, especially the poorest – from £1,200 to £2,400.
Greg Jackson, CEO and founder of Octopus Energy, called on both leadership candidates to pledge large payments to consumers.
‘When the government introduced its assistance package earlier in the year, the total cost of that was about £16billion pounds, and since then our expectation about energy bills this winter is that they’re going to be about £500 higher than expected,’ he told Today. ‘So that gives us an idea of how much support is needed.’
In response there would be planned blackouts – echoing 1974 when commercial users of electricity were limited to three specified consecutive days’ of consumption each week’
Rail services could even be hit if electricity is rationed, because the railways are one of the largest users of power. Meanwhile, supermarkets have been asked to come up with back-up plan to avoid empty shelves in the event of energy shortages.
As millions of British households brace for a dire winter –
Treasury is expected to beef up the 25 per cent windfall tax on energy companies’ profits after firms’ revealed booming profits this month;
Figures show Households already owe £1.3bn to their energy suppliers two months before bills are set to soar by more than 80 per cent;
Former government fuel poverty adviser called situation ‘absolutely dire’ and called for a ‘social tariff’ on bills to help the poorest