Banks in the United Kingdom are preparing to again roll out lockdown plans used during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to stave off potential power shortages this winter amid an energy crisis.
A number of banks, lenders, building societies, and branch officers of overseas banks have been holding regular joint discussions and reexamining policies, such as encouraging employees to work from home, according to the trade body UK Finance, which is coordinating the discussions.
"All firms regardless of size are paying close attention," Andrew Rogan, director of operational resilience at UK Finance, told Bloomberg. "There is no sense of panic, just everyone is making sure that their ducks are in a row."
Fracking Ban LiftedOn Thursday, the UK government announced it is lifting a ban on fracking in the country, despite the publication of a government-commissioned report (pdf) by the British Geological Survey (BGS) on the risks of shale gas extraction that was "inconclusive" and said more data was needed.
Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said lifting the ban was necessary to aid the UK's energy security amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has led to a string of sanctions by the West and prompted the UK to wean itself off imported gas.
"To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil, and gas production—so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realize any potential sources of domestic gas," he added.
Automatic discounts will be applied to energy usage initially between Oct. 1 to March 31, 2023.
Energy Costing Nearly as Much as RentEarlier this month, Stefan Behr, the chief executive of JPMorgan in Europe, said the company has plans in place to prepare for a European energy crisis, including backup generators and large offices, and the investment bank will also consider temporarily moving staff to other countries if necessary.
UK Finance told Bloomberg that major financial firms have generators and additional power sources in place that can supply them for around 72 hours. They are also looking into off-site locations around England including in London, Essex, Surrey, and other places that they could move staff to in the event of localized blackouts, UK Finance said.
"Energy prices have almost met the same level as rent costs," eEnergy Group Chief Executive Officer Harvey Sinclair told Bloomberg. "We’re installing smart meters and identifying whether lights are being left on at night and whether air conditioning units are on too much."
Elsewhere on Sept. 20, the Bank of England, the UK’s central bank, raised interest rates from 1.75 to 2.25 percent, the highest in more than 13 years, in an effort to cool down red-hot inflation.