Heating and electricity will become a “human right” under a Labour government, the party will announce tomorrow. Labour will take the national grid out of the hands of private shareholders and prevent consumers being ripped-off, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey will say. Around £13 billion in dividends has been paid out to shareholders in the last five years, according to a review of network owners’ company accounts from 2014 to 2018. Under Labour’s plans, new public agencies would have the power and responsibility to tackle fuel poverty, protect energy as a human right and ensure that targets to reduce climate change are met. The plans also include the creation of a new national energy agency (NEA) to replace the National Grid, while 14 regional energy agencies (REAs) would assume the functions of the existing distribution network operators. Where local authorities want to accelerate the energy transition, they would be able to set up municipal energy agencies (MEAs) and take over responsibility for ownership and operation of distribution networks from the REAs. In addition, a Labour government would support the establishment of local energy communities (LECs). This would develop small-scale energy generation and engage with distribution at the micro level of housing estates, streets or small villages. LECs will be community-owned and non-profit-making.
Morning Star 15th May 2019 read more »
The national energy agency, linked with 14 regional energy agencies given statutory responsibility to decarbonise electricity and heat, ensure all households have access affordable energy, roll out electric vehicle charging infrastructure and reduce fuel poverty, is so powerful because it combines the battle against climate change with the fight for social justice. Labour is making the case that cleaning up the world needn’t come at the expense of living standards but can be part of a strategy of national renewal that creates jobs, warms homes and saves lives. National Energy Action notes that the winters of 2017-18 and 2018-19 each saw over 10,000 people die as a result of living in a cold home. Fuel poverty is a crippling problem for millions. The organisation noted that “the number dying through cold each year is similar to the amount who die from prostate or breast cancer” and that a higher proportion of British people die from cold each winter than in any other European country except Ireland — a scandal when many European countries face far harsher winters.
Morning Star 15th May 2019 read more »
Alan Simpson: The unthinkable is happening. Parliament, public institutions and the press are waking to the fact that climate change can only be constrained by systems change. This recognition is still in its infancy, but it is already unstoppable. Since the 2017 general election, there have been ample opportunities for MPs to show real political leadership on the climate crisis. They never did. Instead, Parliament has preferred to play Trivial Pursuit with Brexit absurdities. Social movements had to step into the vacuum; addressing the big picture issues politicians had been choosing to ignore. Britain’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) would not have had the political space to bring forward their own “pull your finger out” report without the occupations that brought London streets to a halt. Nor would they have been listened to. The latest UN report on species extinctions now gets treated as evidence, not argument. Politicians of all shades queue up, calling for a programme to deliver the CCC rescue plan. Few grasp the upheavals involved (or that, in itself, this will still not be enough). Over 60 per cent of what the CCC calls for involves behaviour change; all of which is doable. What they duck is that you won’t get behaviour change without systems change. How can Labour deliver climate stability if large parts of the party are still locked into airport expansions, fossil fuel subsidies, expanding road programmes and the illusion of a new era of global free-trade deals? Physics tells us there are no “slow track’ survival options left. A better starting point lies somewhere between Extinction Rebellion and the CCC. To join in, Labour may need to tear up whatever has been its draft manifesto for the next election, replacing it with a new “climate emergency” one. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was right in telling Radio 4 that the British economy must be “put on a war footing to tackle climate change.” The answer isn’t to go building more runways, motorways or shopping malls. What we need is to replant forests, green our cities, and give pollinators places to feed, breed and shelter in. And for the public, we need a national programme to green the nation’s habitat too; delivering warm homes that also produce more energy than they consume.
Morning Star 16th May 2019 read more »
The Labour Party has announced plans to install solar one 1.75 million homes as part of a huge energy sector shake-up. The plans would see solar installed on 1 million social homes in a bid to tackle fuel poverty, while a series of interest free loans, grants and regulatory changes will help enable an additional 750,000 domestic installs. Full details of the plans are to be announced by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn later today. The party said the policies stood to create nearly 17,000 jobs, while raising as much as £66 million for local authorities through the export of surplus generation. Corbyn said that the party’s self-styled Green Industrial Revolution would benefit homeowners and revive parts of the country through the creation of new industries.
Solar Power Portal 16th May 2019 read more »
Edie 16th May 2019 read more »
PV Magazine 16th May 2019 read more »
Labour’s plans to renationalise the electricity network risk damaging investor confidence in Britain while undermining the achievements of privatisation. It was awkward for the Tories that details of Labour’s plans to nationalise the electricity sector were leaked on the same day that news emerged of government plans to renationalise probation services. Awkward because the fiasco over the 2014 probation reforms at the hands of Chris Grayling (who else?) as justice secretary was a reminder that not all privatisations have worked out well. The decision to bring probation services back into the public sector at a cost to taxpayers of £500 million follows recent private sector failures in which prisons, the rail operating company Railtrack, rail operating franchises such as the east coast mainline and a series of outsourced services provided by the likes of Carillion and Interserve, which collapsed last year, were brought back under government control. Nonetheless, what Labour is proposing goes far beyond restoring the provision of some services to public control. It intends to use public money to buy the shares of National Grid, which operates the electricity transmission network, and hand responsibility for electricity distribution from private companies to 14 regional energy agencies. Other sectors slated for renationalisation include the postal service, water and railways. Labour says such moves are justified because the privatised utilities have been making excessive profits that could be better used to reduce bills for customers and boost investment, for example in building out the electricity transmission network to parts of the country with high renewable power potential.
Times 17th May 2019 read more »
Major international infrastructure investors are growing increasingly concerned over rise of the nationalisation agenda in the UK, according to National Grid’s chief executive. In the wake of a Labour Party policy pledge to seize control of energy networks John Pettigrew warned that concern over the UK’s political landscape was growing, particularly among the company’s international investors. The FTSE 100 energy giant stands to be stripped of its role as the operator of Britain’s high voltage energy lines and the wider energy system under the nationalisation plans unveiled by the opposition party today. The energy grids owned by SSE, Scottish Power and a string of regional network companies are also in Labour’s sights, after decades of private investment from infrastructure and pension funds. The party has warned that it would name its own price to snap up the £69bn industry once it has deducted a string of costs from companies. “The thought that the Labour Party might not pay fair value for an investment, if it were to happen, is of course causing concern for investors,” Mr Pettigrew said.
Telegraph 16th May 2019 read more »
The chief executive of National Grid has warned that Labour’s renationalisation proposals would hold back the UK’s move to cleaner energy and mean higher prices for customers, as the company reported an £1.8bn annual profit. National Grid, which runs the UK’s national electricity network, said its profit for the 12 months to 31 March was down by nearly a third from £2.7bn the year before. It wrote off £137m of costs spent to connect two nuclear UK projects in Cumbria and Wales that were cancelled, and also took a financial hit from a seven-month labour dispute at its US business. Mounting a staunch defence against Labour’s proposals to renationalise the FTSE 100 company, John Pettigrew, the chief executive, described them as a huge distraction. He indicated that nationalising power networks could lead to higher costs, which would be passed on to consumers, who pay for energy transmission through their utility bills.
Guardian 16th May 2019 read more »
Labour plans to minimise the cost by taking into account “pension fund deficits; asset stripping since privatisation; stranded assets; the state of repair of assets; and state subsidies given to the energy companies since privatisation”. In other words, it will say that the lack of investment in the networks, previous subsidies, excessive profit taking and the holes in existing final salary pensions schemes should be deducted from the bill. Critics dismiss Labour’s argument that its plan mimics Gordon Brown’s nationalisation of Northern Rock in 2008. They say it was a bust company and effectively worthless. Railtrack is a better example. Even though Tony Blair agreed to pay £2.50 a share for the rail network operator, the government spent years fighting shareholders who wanted £9.15 a share. The same lengthy court battles await a Corbyn-led administration.
Guardian 16th May 2019 read more »
Faster, deeper, fairer – how the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendations could be improved. Total cumulative emissions are what really matter, argues Friends of the Earth’s Mike Childs. Every fraction of a degree matters when it comes to climate change; particularly to the most vulnerable people around the world, but also to habitats such as coral reefs.
Business Green 16th May 2019 read more »