Britain eyes expanding scheme to pay homes to use less power

FILE PHOTO: A row of electricity pylons is seen near the Frodsham on shore wind farm in Frodsham, Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's electricity system operator wants to expand a scheme under which homes are paid to cut power usage so that it becomes a regular feature of the market, rather than just a tool to help prevent electricity shortages in winter.

The Electricity System Operator (ESO), which moves power around the country, said on Tuesday it would consult with industry about its plans and submit a final proposal for approval by regulator Ofgem ahead of the winter.

Under the demand flexibility service (DFS), homes that sign up are paid - usually via money off their bills - for turning off appliances such as ovens and dishwashers during specific periods when electricity demand is high.

Last week, the ESO said it was confident of having enough electricity this winter, with a much more comfortable capacity buffer than in the past two years, meaning it doesn’t think the service will be needed as a winter back-up measure.

"DFS will continue to exist however and the ESO has today proposed enhancements to the service, so that it can be used across the year as a normal commercial service," it said in a statement.

"As we transition away from requiring DFS as a winter contingency service it is only right that we look to the future of what this service can deliver," said Kayte O’Neill, the ESO's chief operating officer.

(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Mark Potter)