Could flipping the switch on The Big Power Off send a message to energy companies? Image: Leonid Mamchenkov/Flickr
On April 10, social media users were encouraged to switch their power off for ten minutes, between 10pm and 10.10pm, in a collective protest against the rising cost of energy and wider cost of living crisis. In what has been dubbed, the Big Power Off, this action aimed to generate enough of an imbalance in the National Grid that it would garner attention from the government and push them into providing support.
Another Big Power Off protest has already been planned for next weekend, on April 16 at 7pm, with the goal of disrupting power supplies and damaging companies where it matters the most – their bottom line.
Organisers are encouraging people to turn off their power for 10 minutes in protest of these rising costs in what they’ve called a “non-partisan action protest”. It’s hoped that this action – which has also been described as a more inclusive form of protest – will cause disarray for both utility companies and the National Grid by providing an imbalance in energy consumption.
How does The Big Power Off work?
The National Grid operates on a ‘balancing mechanism’ when it comes to energy input and output. Simply put, the amount of energy going into the National Grid has to equal the amount of energy going out. But because this isn’t always the case, the balancing mechanism exists to fill the gap.
An Energy Guide spokesperson told the Big Issue that the Big Power Off protests may cause some “significant inconvenience” but “in reality they [National Grid] can likely cope quite well with such a move, since they are already used to dealing with surges in demand. For instance, when millions of people tune in to watch certain TV shows.” Yet, it may still prove quite the costly feat for the grid if these protests become a regular occurrence.
They went on to say that “the Big Power Off Protests is a great way for everyone to show solidarity at their frustrations with the current energy/cost of living crisis.”
The Big Power Off protests aim to highlight the rising costs for so many households, allow people to stand in solidarity with each other, and attempt to disrupt the market in an effort to attract the attention of utility companies and the government.
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