The Times reports, with the somewhat misleading headline:
Blackouts hit thousands as generators fail
From The Times
May 28, 2008
Murad Ahmed and Steve Hawkes
Hundreds of thousands of people were hit by electricity blackouts yesterday when six power stations shut down. The unscheduled stoppages were seen as an unprecedented sign of the fragility of Britain's power infrastructure.
Operations were cancelled, people were stuck in lifts, traffic lights failed and fire engines sent out on false alarms. Householders were unable to use any appliances or make phone-calls as the blackouts hit areas including Cleveland, Cheshire, Lincolnshire and London. The cause was not revealed.
As the power cuts escalated, the National Grid was forced to issue the most serious possible warning - "demand control imminent" - and urged suppliers to provide lower voltage electricity to meet demand.
Energy suppliers affected by the shutdown, including British Energy and EON, said that they could not reveal the reasons for the cuts, nor would they say when some disrupted stations might resume service because disclosure could affect the wholesale price of electricity.
How is such secrecy in the public interest ?
Why are the temporary excess profits of electricity market speculators deemed to be more important than the rights of hundreds of thousands of public customers ?
Once power was actually being cut to hospitals, etc. why could the artificial electricity trading market not be suspended temporarily ?
A National Grid spokesman admitted that the the number of shutdowns was highly unusual. One power company insider said that such an incident had not happened in the past ten years. After two power stations suddenly shut down within minutes of one another at midday, nine "generating units" also shut, and at least four other power stations suffered failures throughout the day. Wholesale electricity prices soared 35 per cent to £95 per megawatt hour, a new record, immediately after the cuts.
That is a National Grid electricity distribution cascade failure, not a failure of the generating stations per se.
The two power stations which did shut down suddenly at about the same time, were, according to the BBC the Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk (something non-nuclear was affected) and the large coal-fired Longannet power station in Fife in Scotland.
Was this just a symptom of the underinvestment in the National Grid, exacerbated by NuLabour's greedy Enron style electricity trading market, or was there some sort of deliberate physical or electronic attack on our Critical National Infrastructure ?