Following the ever-increasing austerity under the Tory government—who can keep up with it anymore?—comes a national pushback against horrifying swelling energy prices. On Sunday 10 April 2022, people across the UK enacted a powerful protest to send a message to the Boris Johnson-led parliament and energy companies in the country against soaring energy costs.
Named the Big Power Off (Big Power Switch Off), the mass initiative that debuted on Sunday urged people to collectively switch off power in their homes for ten minutes at 10 pm. The goal of the protest, which has been cited as a non-partisan operation, was to (with enough numbers) forge an imbalance with the National Grid—one of the world’s largest publicly listed utilities focused on transmission and distribution of electricity and gas—in a bid to gain the attention of the powers that be, The Independent reported.
According to ITV, this first attempt didn’t phase National Grid, with the company reporting no noticeable impact, “Our highly experienced and skilled control room engineers are accustomed to using various tools to manage any sudden fall or rise in demand to ensure a secure and reliable electricity supply for businesses and consumers every second of every day.” That being said, it hasn’t stopped the flourishing movement to continue its spread. Now, as more attention is brought to the cause, there are calls to make it a weekly blackout.
Combating the aforementioned narrative that it had no impact, users took to Twitter to encourage people to stick with it; with one tweeting, “For anybody thinking this didn’t work, think again. The UK pumped storage had to be used to balance the grid frequency. Roughly 10 per cent of the capacity. Once it’s used, it can’t be re-used for many hours. Next time do it at 8, then again at 9. More people the better.” A quick scroll through the social media platform will show you just how divided opinions are on the matter.
Doctor Spyros Skarvelis-Kazakos from the Electrical Engineering department at the University of Sussex, told Euronews, “The effectiveness of such a protest all depends on the uptake.” In other words, it would take millions of household participants to create significant technical impact.
“The impact will not be in the costs of wholesale energy, but most likely in the costs incurred by National Grid ESO, in order to balance the power system. This will be added not just in the costs paid by large generators, but also in the costs of consumer bills,” Skarvelis-Kazakos went on to say. However, following predictions of the risk of “civil unrest” by MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis for The Sunday Telegraph on the increased prices, the people of this country have to have some way to show they don’t like what’s happening to it.
With austerity and poverty only on the rise, people are calling for more to join the protest.
Organiser Kaden Brady has since taken to Twitter to announce an official second date, writing, “Next #BigPowerOff will be [at] 7 pm Saturday 16 April, just before parliament arrives back from their holidays. [Retweet] and share on all social media platforms. Thanks to everyone involved. Get ready for the next one. Solidarity in numbers. Enough is enough! The declaration was also shared by popular TikTok political commentator Tan Smith.
Smith also countered some naysayers by stating, “I’m supporting to see if it achieves anything, I’m just sharing. Those moaning that it won’t achieve anything, yeah it might not, granted. However, no protest works without participation so undermining it is irritating. Don’t want to do it? Fine. Don’t do it quietly.” The plan put forward shows an involvement from everyone on each side of the political spectrum and a reminder that “this is [just] the beginning if we don’t get results.”
So, normally, we’d love for you to be on our site 24/7 but on Saturday 16 April at 7 pm, for just ten minutes, don’t let us catch you on here and turn your power off.