Gas: the winter warmer

Posted on: 01/02/2019


I believe we have some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK here in the south west of England and Wales and it’s even more picturesque today blanketed in snow. But for us - your local gas network - the white stuff brings some real challenges.

We’re the people responsible for keeping the gas flowing safely to heat homes and power businesses, so as temperatures started to drop at the start of this week, we started taking the necessary precautions.

We’ve got almost 1500 colleagues across our area helping to keep the lights on and you safe and warm, so I thought I’d give a bit of an insight into how we respond to snow:

Our job is to provide the national gas emergency service, connect homes to the gas network, roll out our gas pipe upgrade programme, and manage the gas network. And of course, bad weather has an impact on them all.

  • The national gas emergency service doesn’t stop. We’ve got more than 300 engineers on call, ready to respond to gas emergencies from Wrexham to Redruth. They have 4x4s and all-terrain vehicles in place and ready for use. We’ll use them instead of vans to get to gas emergencies if the roads become impassable. But please only call us if you smell gas, have low gas pressure, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide. If you have frozen boiler condensate pipes you can try and defrost them yourself using heat wraps or warm water  - but if this doesn’t work, please call a Gas Safe Registered engineer or your gas supplier.
  • If you’ve paid for a gas connection – you’ll still get it! The weather might slow us down a little bit…but if your appointment is going to change, we’ll contact you directly to arrange a convenient time to come and do the work.
  • We have suspended our gas pipe upgrade work however. As it’s so cold, we won’t interrupt your supply today. Instead we’ll do any work we can in the road, making sure that we’re ready to get back to normal on Monday. If you’re on the list for an upgrade, remember, we’ll write to you several weeks in advance, and then knock your door at least two days before interrupting your supply and let you know what to expect from our work. We should be able to upgrade your gas supply pipe and get things back to normal in a day.
  • Managing the gas network. The network is resilient in the worst of weather, and it’s designed to meet energy demand in even the coldest winter (think Beast from the East!) Today we’re only at 75-80% of our Networks capacity. The forecast looks like things will get milder over the weekend, but even if it gets substantially colder, we’ll be able to keep you warm. And of course, at the moment gas is keeping the lights on. Not everyone realises that more than half of electricity in the UK is being generated by gas. In Wales and the south west alone, we’ve got power stations connected generating enough energy for 3m homes.

With the snow forecast to melt and the temperature to increase slightly, we’re pretty sure that things should get back to normal at the weekend. Like every other day of the year, we’ll be working to keep the gas flowing so you’re safe and warm at home, but we’ll have more people on call ready to respond just in case.

So please stay safe, stay warm and remember, if you do smell gas, have low gas pressure, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide call us immediately on 0800 111 999.

Have a good weekend.


Rob Long

Wales & West Utilities Director of Operations