Millions warned of power cuts this winter.

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Six million households could face blackouts this winter because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ministers have been warned, as they look to bolster electricity supplies by prolonging the life of coal and nuclear power stations.

The Times has been told that the government’s “reasonable” worst-case scenario, which has been drawn up by officials from across Whitehall, says that there could be widespread gas shortages if Russia goes further in cutting off supplies to the EU.

A minister said the briefing suggested that electricity could have to be rationed for up to six million homes at the start of next year, mostly at peaks in the morning and evening. The curbs could last more than a month, causing energy prices to rise again and leaving GDP lower than forecast for years to come.

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