Ofgem chief Jonathan Brearley was briefly left in darkness during his speech in the Parliament. Ironically, the lights at Brearley’s office went off just as he was reassuring MPs that no blackouts will come this winter.
The embarrassing accident with the lights happened as Brearley, the head of the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) was giving evidence to the Commons energy committee on Wednesday.
The official was talking to the MPs through a video link, telling the committee that the UK has “one of the most secure and resilient” gas and electricity supply systems in the world.
As Brearley was trying to reassure the MPs over the looming gas crisis and potential power shortages, he experienced troubles with electricity first-hand when the motion-sensitive lighting switched off at his office. “The lights have gone out,” one of the MPs present at the meeting said, while another reassured him it was not a “security of supply issue” with laughter heard in the background.
The awkward moment when CEO of Ofgem, Jonathan Brearley’s lights go out while talking about energy supply security and reassuring MPs that they will be able to 'keep the lights on' this winter. pic.twitter.com/AOdJIPF5sV
— Best for Britain (@BestForBritain) September 22, 2021
An embarrassed Brearley apologized for the mishap, getting up and waving the lights back on. “It’s movement-sensitive lights to save energy… just to reassure the committee,” he explained, admitting the timing was most “unfortunate” given the topic of the meeting.
While insisting the nation will not face widespread outages, the Ofgem boss acknowledged that the current spike in gas prices may be not temporary, while more energy suppliers could go bust in the months to come. Energy companies going out of business may leave “well above” hundreds of thousands of customers affected.
“It’s not unusual for suppliers to go out of the market. I think what is different this time is that dramatic change in the costs that those suppliers are facing,” Brearley said. “Have a look at the change in the gas price – it really is something that we don’t think we’ve seen before at this pace.”
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The fears of mass-blackouts come amid surging natural gas prices in Europe that have already affected industries heavily reliant on its supply. In the UK, for instance, several fertilizer plants were already forced to shut down in recent weeks.
As the spot prices for natural gas soared by up to 20%, reaching levels more than four times higher than this time last year, smaller energy providers expressed fears they were unlikely to survive the season. “Without support mechanisms from the government it is unlikely we’ll see the winter through,” CEO of Green Peter McGirr told the BBC earlier this week.
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