Black Start payments to push up energy bills

The cost of National Grid's Black Start programme will hit electricity bills at the start of 2018, though some consumers may have seen an increase already.

This change to bills is to cover the costs for National Grid re-starting the system in the event that the lights go out. Payments are made to generators to ensure the system can restart after a grid failure.

Suppliers are either including the increase in their Balancing Service Use of System (BSUoS) charge, or as a separate line in invoices, labelled “Black Start.” The increase is estimated at 0.016 p/kWh.

National Grid is authorised to recover a set amount each year from energy users to support its operations. However, the electricity system operator has been allowed to recover additional revenue to fund its Black Start programme this year. An additional £82.5 million is being included, on top of a revenue increase for this financial year, and National Grid has indicated that they may be seeking more. Whatever the final bill, it is being borne by electricity suppliers and their customers.

The Black Start charge has already been seen on some suppliers’ bills, while other suppliers are indicating it will appear at the start of 2018. As the increased costs are associated with the current financial year, they are not expected to continue beyond April 2017. While the actual increase is relatively small, it is important that it is properly reflected in bills. As such, extra care and attention should be taken over electricity invoices at this time.

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