The Electricity Supply Emergency Code (ESEC) & What You Need to Know

ESEC describes steps which the UK Government could take to deal with:

  • a “civil emergency” as defined in section 96(7) of the Electricity Act 1989 - “any natural disaster or other emergency which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, is or may be likely to disrupt electricity supplies”; or
  • an electricity supply emergency of the kind envisaged in section 3(1)(b) of the Energy Act 1976 - “there exists or is imminent in the United Kingdom an actual or threatened emergency affecting fuel or electricity supplies which makes it necessary in His Majesty’s opinion that the government should temporarily have at its disposal exceptional powers for controlling the sources and availability of energy”.

What are protected sites?

Sites are protected if they need to have their electricity supply maintained because of:

  • a national or regional critical need.
  • public health and safety issues.
  • the potential for catastrophic damage to high value plant.

The sites’ details will be held on a list maintained by the Network Operator for their area of supply.

There are two main elements, both of which must be met.

  •  A customer’s site must fall within the list of approved designated services.
  •  Protected Sites must also meet the additional criteria, and customers must agree to the obligations for Protected Sites.

Approved designated services:

  • Gas reception terminals; storage installations including boosting and compression equipment; gas compressor stations and principal development and control sites for the control of gas supply systems and emergency procedure.
  • Licensed electricity generators, and licensed network operators.
  • Sites with a continuous manufacturing process, not sustainable through standby generation, where regular shutdown for 3-hour periods is not possible and would cause significant financial damage.
  • Major airports and associated control facilities.   
  • Significant railway operations.    
  • Ports and docks which have a national infrastructure significance.            
  • Essential water and sewerage installations.          
  • A major location for essential food manufacture, processing or storing.  
  • Hospitals as agreed with NHS Foundation Trusts, Primary Care Trusts, Acute Trusts, Local Health Boards (in Wales), Welsh NHS Trusts and NHS Health Scotland.         
  • Digital and telecommunication services where there is a national need for continued operation.          
  • Emergency services of regional significance.        
  • Financial services where there is a national need for continued operation.        

Sites which do not meet the above criteria may make a representation to the relevant Lead Government Department for consideration of Protected Site status, given that the criteria and obligations set out in sections above are met, and the significant impact of not having Protected Site status can be demonstrated.

Please click here to read more about the additional criteria and the obligations for listing protected a site.