The scheme, in Greater Manchester, by energy network operator Electricity North West, will – it says – allow businesses and organisations to be paid to reduce their energy use when capacity is needed to support the grid.

Electricity North West has signed a contract with energy management firm EnerNOC, to bring technology used to adjust demand for electricity to the local network.

Electricity North West owns, operates and maintains 13,000km of overhead lines, 43,000km of underground cables and 38,000 transformers to 2.4 million properties throughout the North West’s electricity distribution network.

Under the trial big businesses who use a lot of electricity to become part of the scheme will be offered ‘incentives’ to joins the scheme.

State-of-the-art technology will then be used by Electricity North West to ask these businesses to reduce their demand at certain times.

The trials in Stockport and Bury are expected to operate for five years and if the scheme is successful it could be introduced to the rest of the North West.

Electricity North West’s customer strategy director, Paul Bircham, said: “The local network we own and maintain can only carry a certain amount.

“So the challenge for us, and our customers, is to find ways to cope with the increase in demand without just building more and more lines.”

“It would cost customers a fortune through their bills to just build more network to satisfy the predicted increase in demand, but if we can reduce the demand during peak periods instead, then the costs will be hugely reduced.”

Electricity North West plans to invest more than £1 billion in the region’s infrastructure over the next five years including £200 million on new connections, £120m to reinforce the network and £400m to renew equipment.

Luke Walsh

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