SSE's Ian Marchant: UK at risk of "lights going out" in the future

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The boss of one of the 'Big Six' energy firms has warned the UK is at real risk of its "lights going out" unless further action is taken over the generation and supply of power.

SSE chief executive, Ian Marchant, warned that the government was seriously underestimating the "capacity crunch" currently facing the country.

Mr Marchant said: "The government is significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the UK in the next three years and there is a very real risk of the lights going out as a result."

He added the government could reduce this risk significantly by taking further action to provide a greater clarity on its various electricity market reforms and also by bringing forward capacity payments for existing plants from 2018 to 2014.

His warning echoes that made by Ofgem in February.

The energy regulator warned there would be a ten per cent drop in energy capacity in April due to the closing of a number of power stations.

However, the energy provider has pointed out its own plans to cut power generation were not taken into consideration by Ofgem, so in fact matters could be a lot worse than it initially thought.

SSE managing director, Paul Smith, added: "The kind of decisions SSE is taking, to close existing generation plant on the one hand and delay investing in new plant on the other, is likely to be reflected across the industry in the coming months."

Energy minister, John Hayes, however, believes the government is not being complacent on such matters.

He said: "We're alive to the challenge facing us. The Bill before Parliament will set the conditions for the investment needed to keep Britain's lights on in the long term.

"The amount of spare power available today is currently comfortable. We will make sure it stays manageable."

SSE is just one of a number of energy providers working alongside the government as part of its Green Deal initiative, launched at the end of January.

Customers can seek help from their energy providers to help improve energy efficiency in their home through measures including the fitting of more efficient boilers, solar panels or even loft and wall insulation.

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