Energy price rises coupled with high profits, mis-selling scandals at power firms and a lack of transparency over bills have destroyed consumers’ trust in energy companies, a committee of MPs has said in a report that also criticises the sector’s watchdog for failing to take effective action. The MPs also criticised the government for doing too little to help millions of people living in fuel poverty. The current approach is to offer low-income families subsidies, paid for by energy companies, for energy efficiency measures such as solid wall insulation and new boilers. The government announced an extra £20m for these efforts last week, which should benefit 20,000 homes. In a recommendation that is likely to be controversial, the committee said the money for lifting people out of fuel poverty should come from the taxpayer, not bill-payers. The fuel poverty charity NEA said the energy company obligation was insufficient to address the scale of fuel poverty and called for further action. “It is crucial that in the coming months the government accept there is an urgent need to address well-documented deficiencies with the current approach and ensure that there is adequate and proportionate assistance which is accessible to all fuel poor households to protect them from rising energy costs,” it said.
Guardian 29th July 2013 read more »
Trust in the energy market is being undermined by a lack of transparency about how companies make their profits, MPs have warned. Members of the energy and climate change committee have also criticised the regulator, Ofgem, for not “using its teeth more” to restore consumer confidence. The MPs make a series of recommendations in a new report, including making bills easier to understand and for tariffs to be compared with those of other companies.
Independent 29th July 2013 read more »
Ministers were last night criticised for funding billions of pounds-worth of green schemes and climate change programmes through levies on household gas and electricity bills rather than recouping the money directly from taxpayers. A hard-hitting report said the “regressive” tactic was placing a huge burden on vulnerable customers, such as the elderly and low income families, and that raising the money through tax was more equitable, as it would be based on an individual’s ability to pay. In its report, the Commons Energy Climate Change Committee said environmental charges account for 9pc of everyone’s gas and electricity bill, regardless of their income. The Government’s own estimates are that its policies will add 33pc to the average electricity price paid by households in 2020. The Committee said: “The use of levies on bills to fund social and environmental programmes will add to the burden faced by energy bills payers, particularly in low-income households. The Select Committee insists the Government should do more to tackle fuel poverty, but is also scathing at the lack of transparency on household bills and the efforts of Ofgem, the industry regulator, to force the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers to do more.
Telegraph 29th July 2013 read more »
The energy regulator Ofgem is not doing enough to ensure that energy company profits are transparent, MPs say. The Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC) report said the watchdog was “failing consumers by not taking all possible steps to improve openness”. The committee said that “working out exactly how their profits are made requires forensic accountants”. Ofgem said it had made energy companies produce yearly financial statements and they had been reviewed by accountants. Sir Robert Smith, on behalf of the committee, said: “At a time when many people are struggling with the rising costs of energy, consumers need reassurance that the profits being made by the ‘big six’ are not excessive.”
BBC 29th July 2013 read more »
Winter fuel payments should be taken from rich pensioners and the cash used to tackle fuel poverty, MPs say. A report by the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee criticises ministers for failing to do enough to help millions struggling with soaring energy bills and reopens the debate on benefits for wealthy older people. Members call on the Government to explore the possibility of means-testing pensioners and to reinvest any savings into insulation and other measures to help the poor to bring down the cost of heating their homes.
Times 29th July 2013 read more »
COUNCIL chiefs want a nuclear cash bonanza to speed up the building of a £100m third crossing over the Menai Strait as compensation for the decommissing of Wylfa. The nuclear plant is expected to start decommissioing in 2017 with 10 years of major work to clear everything except the reactor building. This will impact on the island’s road network and leave around 600 skilled nuclear workers seeking employment with a time lapse before a potential Wylfa B starts operating.To compensate for the economic impact the local authority plans to seek a contribution for the proposed third bridge over the Strait as part of the socio-economic benefits package that the Nuclear Decommissioing Authority will leave behind.
Daily Post 27th July 2013 read more »
Candidates in the Welsh assembly by-election in Ynys Mon have been outlining their views on nuclear power. The six were questioned about their views on plans for a proposed Wylfa B station on Anglesey by BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement programme. Voters go to the poll next Thursday. The Socialist Labour Party is clear on Wylfa B as it has a “clear anti-nuclear policy”, according to candidate Kathrine Jones. “We are strongly opposed to the storing of highly radioactive waste for up to 150 years on the site without being moved.
BBC 28th July 2013 read more »
As we noted in May, the American “Nuclear Renaissance” is over, “the change in nuclear’s fortunes is staggering”, and a horrible “cauldron of events” has [brought] the nuclear push to a standstill”. Even though the American government has done everything possible to encourage nuclear power – by wholly subsidizing nuclear power, reducing safety standards after Fukushima, forcing Japan to re-start its nuclear program, covering up the severity of the Fukushima accident, raising acceptable radiation limits and agreeing to buy radioactive Japanese seafood – the number of nuclear plants worldwide and percentage of electricity provided by nuclear is declining.
Washington Blog 26th July 2013 read more »
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp (CGNPC), the country’s top nuclear power station builder, plans to launch dual initial public offerings (IPO) in Shanghai and Hong Kong next year, hoping to raise at least 20 billion yuan ($3.3 billion), the official Shanghai Securities News said on Monday.
Reuters 29th July 2013 read more »
The Community Energy Fortnight is an initiative of the Community Energy Coalition. Running from 24th August – 8th September, events will be taking place right across the UK. Through these events, we aim to engage and inspire people about the wide-ranging benefits of community energy, and to generate support for our vision of community energy at scale in the UK by 2020.
Community Energy Fotnight 28th July 2013 read more »
A trial of the largest battery in Europe, which proponents hope will transform the UK electricity grid and boost renewable energy is due to start in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. The trial of cutting-edge energy storage technology will test new methods of capturing electricity for release over long periods, evening out the bumps and troughs of supply and demand that plague the electricity grid. Finding ways of storing power from wind and solar generation is key to maintaining a constant source of energy. But storage technology has been difficult to translate from small devices such as batteries and laptops to the enormous scale needed to balance demand and supply on the national grid. At the electricity substation serving Leighton Buzzard, three companies are hoping to deploy one of the biggest batteries ever constructed, using lithium manganese technology. The £18.7m project will form the centrepiece of a trial of energy storage that could have far-reaching implications for the renewables sector. The three companies – S&C Electric Europe, Samsung SDI and Younicos – have gained £13.2m backing from the UK taxpayer for their 6 megawatt capacity battery installation, which will absorb and release energy to meet the demands of the grid. The first results are not expected until 2016.
Guardian 29th July 2013 read more »
Letter Maria McCaffrey: Blaming “prevaricating politicians” and putting all hope of energy security on nuclear new build and shale gas (both of which are surely 10 years off at a minimum) is not the answer. We need a rich mix of technologies to encourage healthy competition, keep energy bills down and maintain energy security. To dismiss renewable energy as feeble and costly is both factually and morally incorrect. With over two-thirds of the British public concerned about the UK’s reliance on foreign fossil fuels, one homegrown industry is getting on with the job: wind power. Last year wind energy generated 5.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity supply, and the industry is on track to generate at least 15 per cent of our electricity needs by 2020.
FT 28th July 2013 read more »
A new £20 million Green Deal Communities scheme to help local authorities drive street-by-street delivery of the Green Deal has been unveiled. Under new proposals from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), local authorities in England will be able to bid for funding from a £20 million pot to help households benefit from the Green Deal on a street-by-street or area basis. Local authorities will identify target streets and areas in their regions that could most benefit from the Green Deal, and then offer incentives to households in these areas to encourage them to install energy efficiency home improvements under the Green Deal. Local authorities will propose incentives as part of their bids for funding, which will be assessed by DECC.
Sustainable Homes 29th July 2013 read more »