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The Big 6, Energy UK and UKIP

energy newsIn a rather surprising tie-up, Energy UK, the trade body for the Big 6 energy suppliers has exploited the success of UKIP in the recent elections to lobby for a rethink on ‘green’ power.

Angela Knight, Chief Executive of Energy UK said:

” the European elections … clearly demonstrated how people’s view of the European Union both here and in a number of other countries, has changed.

“One outcome has to be that EU energy policy can no longer be decided without sensible timetables and ignoring the reality that people have to pay for these decisions”

“We have an opportunity in the energy industry to get fact based, logic based, properly costed and sensible EU policy-making and to encourage a move away from an emotion driven and expensive agenda.”

Not quite climate change denial but certainly not a progressive view of the energy industry one would hope they could expect from the dominant energy suppliers and their representatives.

Renewable Energy Association (REA) Chief Executive Nina Skorupska lambasted Knight saying:

“There is nothing emotional about the move to renewable energy.”

“Renewables contribute to all three aspects of the energy trilemma [security of supply, lowering carbon emissions, affordability].”

“Experience in Germany and the USA is showing that the utilities that are adapting to renewables and embracing them are more financially secure than the laggards.”

Knight’s claims come against a backdrop of decreasing confidence from the renewable sector as the drip drip of lobbying from suppliers and their representatives to dilute their environmental and renewable obligations has started to take effect.

A major part of this inertia has been played by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles who has used his veto powers in 39 onshore wind planning applications and who has so far refused planning for 10 such projects in the last 12 months out of 12 considered, 4 of which fundamentally contradicted the decisions reached by the appointed planning inspectors.

This anti-wind agenda underlines the expected moratorium of onshore wind as part of the 2015 Conservative manifesto as the embattled government tries to wrestle authority on such ‘issues’ from UKIP.

According to the Ernst & Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), the UK has already fallen in ratings. Ben Warren, Ernst & Young’s Environmental Finance Leader explained:

“The UK has slipped to sixth place for the first time in more than a year.”

“Policy tinkering and conflicting signals once again become too much for investors and developers to handle.”

“The recent carbon tax freeze, an energy market competition probe and Conservative party plans to scrap onshore wind subsidies post 2015 are weighing heavily on the sector’s ability to assess the long-term outlook. In addition, the launch of a government consultation on future financial support for solar has taken the shine off the UK’s otherwise booming solar market.”

“As ever with the renewables sector, more damaging than the outcome of any review itself, is the uncertainty it creates and the trust it erodes. This last quarter has been no exception, with little done to foster sympathy from the renewable energy sector, which appears to be continuously caught in the firing line.”

Gemma Grimes, Director of Onshore Renewables at RenewableUK, the trade body for the renewables industry hit back at the government and Pickles in particular for the “politicised” reaction saying:

“By doing this, he’s undermining the fundamental principles of England’s impartial planning process. Frankly, his intervention looks political, and that’s unnerving to developers of all infrastructure projects.”

The Big 6 believes they are being held accountable for cost increases that are levied upon them through environmental studies. Indeed there is some sympathy with this argument with around 9% of the average energy bill being subsidies for renewable and environmental initiatives.

It is disingenuous however for the suppliers to pin all the claims of profiteering on the government and indeed an objective Competition and Markets Authority Investigation will bear this out.

However there is an indisputable impact on end users bills for future investment in an energy secure nation, the question is however, if the current government is hell-bent on preventing onshore wind, and inward investment in the UK energy market is dwindling, just exactly where is that money going and why?

Hopefully the CMA investigation will clear up that mess too.

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