How much could your business save?Find out now!
Or, you can call us on:0800 411 8830

Business electricity: the UK’s coming winters of disconnect?

The UK electricity supply margin is set to be squeezed over the next three years, according to a new report from Ofgem. What does this mean for SMEs?

Ofgem’s report comes in response to National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios for electricity security of supply. The National Grid (NG) report called margins “narrow”, meaning that the NG will need to call on balancing tools such as voltage reduction, maximum generation or emergency assistance from interconnectors. The Supplemental Balancing Reserve (SBR) and Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR) are the extra tools that the NGcould use to help balance the system.

These assurances have not convinced everyone. Some have blamed privatisation and a lack of forethought in energy generation strategy for margins that are too tight for comfort.

Business electricity suppliers

This coming winter seems to less of a worry. For 2015/16, NG has procured ‘additional balancing services’ that should keep the lights on. But there is a “wide range of uncertainty” over the outlook, particularly for 2016/17. Margins could tighten if further power stations close or mothball (which may not be unlikely as it seems, given the age of much of the UK’s generation infrastructure).

Still, Ofgem assured that it has identified potential for the market to respond and reduce the risks to security of supply. The outlook is expected to improve in 2017/18 as some mothballed generating capacity returns to the market. A continued reduction in demand could also have a positive impact.

Despite the small chance of outages, Ofgem conceded that projecting future demand “is inherently difficult”, especially against a backdrop of rapid installation of embedded generation, on-going energy efficiency and the changing nature of the relationship between power demand and economic growth. “This is a key area of uncertainty in the outlook, because understanding demand evolution is challenging,” the report concluded.

Commercial electricity rates

While SMEs probably do not (yet) need to invest in generators, the evident concern over electricity margins could be accompanied by an uptick in business electric rates. The return to market of electricity generators should ease supply pressures but, in the meantime, locking in relatively cheap business electricity now might soon prove to be a prudent move.

Unfortunately, small to medium sized business often lack the time to compare business electricity. Price comparison sites are abundant in the consumer sphere but those helping compare electricity prices for business users are far fewer. When you discount those without specific expertise in small business electricity tariffs, the list is very short indeed. offers a no-obligation comprehensive comparison of business electricity and gas suppliers in just 20 minutes. Fill in our simple form (also at the top right of this page) or give us a call on 0330 0100 251 now to start saving.

Related Articles

Halloween Energy News

The Week’s Top Energy News – Halloween edition

Welcome to a Halloween themed edition of our weekly energy round-up. This week, we take a look at spooky ener...

Read More
could a cyber attack bring down the energy grid?

Could a cyber attack bring down the energy grid?

On Friday October 21st, people tried to log on to Twitter. The site was down. Cyber hackers had crashed the wo...

Read More
in depth: how long would electricity last in a zombie apocalypse?

In Depth: Electricity in a zombie apocalpyse

This is a companion piece to our Zombie Apocalypse Infographic, where we investigate how long energy will last...

Read More
Excellent, 9.4 / 10

Competent and courteous service.

"Marie was knowledgeable and helpful. I feel able to recommend the service given without reservation. David Slesenger"

This review was posted by David Slesenger on the 16th of August 2016

Good service

"Nadia was very helpful"

This review was posted by Robin on the 16th of August 2016

Excellent Customer Service *****

"Jonathan Burgess is an asset to Switch My Business. He made me feel at ease and was more than helpful at all times. He made regular contact and guided me through the whole process which made switching a breeze. I just wish there were more customer service advisers like Jonathon whose friendly and happy demeanour make your day a much nicer one. Well done Switch my business and more importantly thank you Jonathon for all your hard work! Maria Owen Lodgecrest"

This review was posted by Maria Owen on the 17th of August 2016


"I totally agree with a customer maria owen,Jonathan Burgess was such a pleasure dealing with and is truly a asset to the company, he made it very easy to switch my electricity companies, Jonathan Burgess was very helpful, easy to talk to it was like talking to a friend not just a customer adviser. I would definitely recommend switchmybusiness and try get hold off Jonathan Burgess if possible and have the same excellent service as I did. Rajan Shanan"

This review was posted by Rajan Shanan on the 19th of August 2016

Excellent and very helpful

"Arron who dealt with my switch of energy and gas has been a huge help and extremely efficienct and easy to deal with. Despite British Gas throwing obstacles in the way at every turn he has doggedly stuck to his task and saved the day. Thanks Arron."

This review was posted by Rod Pryce-Jones on the 19th of August 2016