We wouldn’t need price caps if the Tories hadn’t cut energy-saving schemes. Amid the furore, and the debate over how low a cap would be set, how long it would last and whether it would really end what Theresa May described as “rip-off energy prices”, the real solution barely warranted a mention. The problem with price caps is that they are – like switching to tariffs that eventually come to an end – a short-term sticking plaster. Ed Miliband’s price freeze was for 18 months. The Conservatives’ stolen version will be time-limited, perhaps for a year or two, perhaps longer. But when it lifts, so will prices, and we end up back with the status quo. The elephant in the room, and the only real long-term answer to reducing how much we pay, is energy efficiency. As one industry figure admits, it’s “not electoral Viagra”. But experts agree that new boilers, better appliances, insulating the solid walls of 100-year-old homes and properly lagged lofts are the only true fix. Government advisers recently found that shifting to A-rated fridge-freezers, ditching incandescent bulbs and switching to condensing boilers reduced the average household energy bill by £290 between 2008 and 2016. Efficiency is a large part of the reason people pay about £115 a year less for energy in real terms than they did nine years ago. The Conservatives have botched or cut government energy-efficiency programmes that could have reined in the rising energy bills that have made a cap seem so inevitable. The number of insulation measures going into homes will have fallen 88% in a decade by the end of the year, at current rates. The 1 million homes the government promises to insulate this parliament sounds good – until you realise that in 2007, 2.5 million homes were done in a single year. Less than three months after coming to power in 2015, ministers killed the government’s flagship energy efficiency programme, the Green Deal. It was deeply flawed, so few were sad to see it go. But as officials freely admitted, the government had nothing to replace it, and still doesn’t.
Observer 14th May 2017 read more »
The Conservative Party’s plans to knock £100 off energy bills could be left in tatters by a two-year delay to the promised cap on tariffs and no guarantee of lower prices. Senior energy industry sources have told The Sunday Telegraph they are bracing for a complex regulatory gauntlet which would likely take the industry regulator until early 2019 to conclude.“There is no escaping that this is a monumental undertaking,” warned a regulatory specialist at one of the UK’s biggest power providers. “There is absolutely zero chance that this cap could be put in place this winter and it would be very tight to try to implement a price control in time for the next one,” the source added. industry insiders said by the time the cap is in place the spiralling cost of Government policies will effectively force Ofgem to sign off on higher energy bills than those in place today.“The only upside is that it will be Ofgem having to explain price hikes rather than us,” said one energy company boss, who asked not to be named.If elected, the Conservatives are expected to begin legislation to allow Ofgem to crack down on bills as soon as the autumn. But plans to speed the Bill through Parliament are likely to be slowed by those within the party who fear it undermines free market ideals.
Telegraph 13th May 2017 read more »
THE chief executive of Scottish Power Renewables has accused the UK Government of being “allergic” to onshore wind power. Keith Anderson was speaking at the All-Energy 2017 conference in Glasgow, where Nicola Sturgeon said plans to generate half of all Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030 showed it was already a world leader in the sector.Mr Anderson, who is also chief corporate officer for Scottish Power, told delegates that the Conservatives’ plan to cap energy prices addressed the symptoms and not the cause of the issues facing the energy industry.He said the government needed to examine the entire sector and its supply chain, “not just try to fix everything by fixing energy prices”.Telling delegates at the SEC Centre that the majority of Scottish Power’s 5.4 million retail customers wanted onshore energy, he said: “Onshore wind is the cheapest form of renewable energy, it’s been hugely successful right across the whole of the UK and particularly in Scotland, yet we appear to have a UK government that is allergic to onshore wind and we don’t really know why and they aren’t very good at explaining their reasons.”He added: “If like us, this government truly wants clean energy in the most cost effective way for the benefit of customers then surely, like us, they must know that onshore wind has to be part of the future of the UK energy sector.”The First Minister also accused the Conservative Government of falling short in its commitment to renewable energy, telling delegates: “The UK Government’s support for renewables seems to come second to investment in new nuclear power stations.” Ms Sturgeon outlined her government’s “hugely ambitious” target of generating half of Scotland’s energy needs through renewables by 2030. The number – which encompasses electricity, heat and transport – is currently 15 per cent. “Our aim is crystal clear – we want renewable sources to play the major role in meeting Scotland’s energy needs,” she said, highlighting that Scotland was emerging as a world leader in low carbon and renewable energy.“Across wind, wave and tidal, not to mention hydro and solar, Scotland’s renewable sector really is a global leader and by setting a new energy target we are ensuring that continues and that all of us can reap the benefits,” she said.
Herald 11th May 2017 read more »