Power Lines
National Grid has been given powers to find ways of saving electricity by paying businesses money during winter time by regulator Ofgem Reuters

Businesses could be paid money to save electricity as Britain's capacity to supply electricity comes under strain in the years ahead.

The National Grid's proposed mechanism for rewarding businesses that save electricity involves an option to reduce consumption during times of high demand.

That means businesses scaling down their usage between 4pm and 8pm on weekday evenings in the winter will receive payment.

The amount of payment businesses will receive will be determined through a tender run by the National Grid next year.

Ofgem said that its decision means that National Grid can begin to make preparations for tendering the services from the spring of 2014 in time for 2014/2015.

According to Ofgem, the energy regulator, it is essential that National Grid be given more options to balance the electricity supply from the winter 2014/2015 and beyond.

Andrew Wright, chief executive of Ofgem said: "Britain has one of the most reliable power systems in the world, but with margins tightening there can be no room for industry complacency or security of supply.

"Therefore we have approved these new tolls to act as an extra insurance policy that is available for National Grid to protect consumers' power supplies."

He also said that the difference between energy supply and demand in the UK was wider than previously thought.

"Our latest assessment on security of electricity supplies published this summer showed the electricity margins are set to tighten more quickly than previously expected in the middle of the decade. This is mainly because older coal power stations will close sooner," he added.

Ofgem said that it thinks electricity margins could tighten in 2015-2016 to between 2% to 5% depending on the outlook for demand.

National Gird estimates these new measures will add less than £1 ($1.64, €1.2) per year for households.