Preparing for a cold weekend

Posted on: 15/01/2016

You’ll need to wrap up warm if you’re going out this weekend - have you seen the weather forecast? Freezing temperatures are predicted, and this will bring challenges on several fronts for our business. Along with my executive colleagues, over the next few days we’ll be making sure we’re prepared for whatever the weather may throw at us.

One of the biggest challenges is the impact on gas demand. This weekend could see us heading towards peak gas demand – but not just for this year. The last five years have been particularly mild and if the forecasts are right, this weekend could be the highest gas demand since 2011. Our ‘System Ops’ team, led by our aptly named System Operations Manager Bethan Winter is prepared to dramatically increase the gas flowing through our network so homes and businesses have all the gas they need. Our secure control room will be manned, as usual, 24 hours a day through the weekend ready to increase or decrease the flow as needed.

More gas demand means higher pressure and the potential for more gas leaks, so our gas emergency teams will be on standby to respond within an hour to leaks on the gas network or on our customers’ internal gas pipework. And they’ll also be ready to respond to calls where carbon monoxide is suspected. If there is a need to turn gas off to repair a leak, our teams will be working hard to get the gas back on and make sure we can keep people warm. We’re making sure that we are well prepared to provide alternate cooking and heating facilities, if needed, too.

Our back office team are making sure they are prepared too, so that any customers who do call us will get their enquiries resolved as quickly as possible. People will be able to contact us by phone or email, and our social media team will be on call too, able to answer any questions people may have.

We’re ready for the weather, but with another one of my hats on – that of preparing our company for the challenges of the future, this weekend will be very significant in showing how important gas will be as part of a secure energy future. Yes, we must move to decarbonise energy and, whatever your views on climate change, this just makes good common sense. We cannot sacrifice security of supply and the gas network will be heating 80% of homes in the UK this weekend, while – if the forecasts are correct, wind and solar generation will be at minimal levels. And if the weather continues into next week, as well it might, gas will be heating and powering commercial and manufacturing businesses right across the country.

So we are ready. For the weather – and to face future energy challenges, with gas networks ready to continue playing a key role. 

Chris Clarke

Wales & West Utilities Director of Asset Management and HS&E