Preparing for Rolling Blackouts: What Businesses Need to Know

Rolling blackouts, also known as energy blackouts, are quickly becoming a reality in Britain. With the National Grid warning of potential power cuts of up to 3 hours this winter, businesses must begin preparing for major disruptions. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key considerations businesses should make to ensure their operations remain safe and resilient during the ongoing energy crisis.

Potential Impact on Businesses

As Britain potentially faces National Grid rolling blackouts this winter, businesses will need to plan ahead in order to minimise disruption. Power outages can be particularly disruptive to businesses, causing them to lose income and customers.

Businesses that rely on the internet or digital communication are especially vulnerable to outages. If a business’s servers are down due to an outage, their customers may experience delays or loss of service. Businesses will need to have an alternative back-up system in place that is not reliant on electricity, such as using a mobile data connection or a physical hard drive. 

Businesses that rely on a physical location for their services are also at risk of disruption. Stores, restaurants and other establishments could be forced to close if there is an extended power outage. Business owners should create a plan for how they would handle such an event, such as a backup generator.

It is important for businesses to be prepared for any potential power outages or reduction in energy supplies this winter. Business owners should create a contingency plan and consider ways to minimise disruption to their operations. By doing so, they can ensure that their business is protected in the event of a power cut.

Steps to Take Ahead of Time

As Britain braces for potential rolling blackouts this winter, businesses should take proactive steps to ensure their operations and assets are adequately prepared for a power outage. Here are some key measures to consider:

1. Invest in an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) System: A UPS system is a device that provides backup power when the primary power source fails. It allows for uninterrupted operation of electronic equipment and protects against data loss, damaged equipment, and other issues caused by sudden power outages.

2. Monitor Energy Usage: Regularly monitor energy consumption to identify any areas of excess energy use or wastage. This can help identify ways to reduce power consumption and prepare your business for any upcoming rolling blackouts.

3. Establish Backup Communication Channels: Make sure your business has a reliable backup communication system in place, such as an emergency phone line or a web-based chat platform, in case of an emergency. This will enable you to stay in touch with customers and employees, even during an extended power outage.

4. Test Equipment and Systems: Test all emergency lighting and equipment, as well as alarm systems, before a blackout occurs to ensure they will work correctly when needed. 

5. Store Data in the Cloud: Move critical data and software applications to cloud-based storage systems so it can be accessed from anywhere in case of a power outage.

6. Check if You’re Owed Money: If you’ve used an energy broker, they may have added hidden commission into your energy contracts without clearly explaining it. Energy brokers legally have to disclose any commissions earned, but over the years many have made misleading statements or concealed their financial incentives. Check if your business is owed money due to mis-sold energy contracts.

By taking these proactive steps, businesses can be better prepared for a potential rolling blackout this winter and ensure minimal disruption to operations.

Workplace Health and Safety

Employers should take measures to safeguard their employees’ health and safety during potential outages. Businesses need to consider any potential risks that could arise from a power outage, and develop plans to manage them effectively.

For businesses with staff members working in the office or in other workplaces, employers should make sure that equipment is stored securely and all relevant health and safety protocols are in place. Employers should also take steps to ensure their premises remain safe and secure.

Those working from home should be informed of the risk of a power outage and provided with advice on how to prepare for such an event. For example, employees can be encouraged to unplug electrical equipment and ensure that any backup batteries are fully charged.

In addition, employers should consider how they will communicate with their staff in the event of a blackout. Having a communication plan in place that outlines how employees will be kept informed of developments will ensure staff members are kept up-to-date.

Employers should assess what can still be done to protect staff safety in the dark, for example by providing emergency lighting or alternative work arrangements. 

Communicating with Employees and Customers

When communicating with employees, it’s important to provide as much information as possible in order to be as prepared as possible. This includes steps that should be taken before, during, and after a blackout. This can include details such as turning off all non-essential equipment before the blackout and ensuring IT systems are backed up before any power interruption. It’s also important to discuss how these blackouts might impact customer service, and how employees can respond in the event of an outage.

For customers, clear communication is equally important. Businesses should consider setting up a hotline or chatbot to provide customers with updates on any potential blackouts and their impact on services. This also helps reassure customers that the business is taking the necessary steps to mitigate the risk. Additionally, businesses should share any contingency plans for customers in the event of a blackout, such as alternate methods of access or service provision.

Other Considerations

When it comes to rolling blackouts, businesses should also consider the impact on operations and their customers. A prolonged blackout can affect not only your own systems but also those of your suppliers and clients, which can have a ripple effect that can last for days or even weeks.

It is important to plan ahead and ensure that any critical systems or processes are able to continue functioning without power. This could include anything from switching to battery-powered devices to having a generator on hand. Additionally, if your business relies on external services or cloud storage, you should also plan for what would happen if they were to go offline as well.

Another consideration is how a blackout could affect customer service. Depending on the nature of your business, a prolonged period without power could mean an inability to answer customer queries or make deliveries on time. Planning for these scenarios ahead of time is essential to ensure that your customers’ expectations are still met in the event of a blackout.

Finally, it is worth checking to see if your business is owed money due to mis-sold energy contracts. A successful claim could provide a timely financial injection at a difficult time.

By taking the time to plan for rolling blackouts, businesses can be sure that they are prepared for any eventuality.

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