Innovative Energy Consultancy Ltd
Innovative Energy Consultancy Ltd

Manifestos show plans to bear down on energy costs

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s calling of a snap general election, political parties have released their manifestos, describing the policies they would implement in the next government.

With a range of different priorities between the parties, the future of the energy landscape is set to be defined by the election results.

Conservatives prioritise lower energy costs
The Conservative manifesto, published on 18 May, pledged to commission an independent review into the cost of energy to ensure low costs and to meet 2050 carbon reduction objectives.
The party would introduce a standard variable tariff (SVT) price cap to protect domestic consumers from the rising price of energy and will consult on how to extend it to small businesses, who have also faced rising costs as part of broader planned reforms to the business energy market.

The Conservatives ruled out new major onshore wind developments in England but backed offshore wind and Scottish island projects. The party also expressed support for fracking to enhance energy security. More broadly the party has said that it will ensure the UK continues to lead international action against climate change and will continue its commitment to the Climate Change Act.

The party also pledged to achieve the smart meter roll out by offering one to every business by the end of 2020 and laid out its plans to establish an energy efficiency scheme to help large businesses mitigate their energy use.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General of business group the CBI commented: “We are going through a major transformation of our energy system, and it is important that this happens in the most cost-effective way. A focus on energy efficiency as a way of helping both business and energy consumers to manage their bills is welcome.”

Labour pledge renationalisation

The Labour Party proposed a more interventionist series of measures in its manifesto, published on 16 May.

Labour said it understood that many people just want reliable and affordable energy. To achieve this, the party pledged to take back public control of the energy system Firstly, the party would alter the national and regional network operator licence conditions to support the creation of publicly owned, locally accountable energy companies and co-operatives to compete with existing energy suppliers, with at least one in every region. It would then legislate to permit publicly owned local companies to purchase regional grid infrastructure. In this way, national and regional grid infrastructure will be brought gradually into public ownership.

Chief Executive of system operator National Grid, John Pettigrew, warned that renationalisation is the “last thing the industry needs” as the plans could hinder the addition of wind and solar onto the UK’s power grid after creating considerable instability.

Labour also stated its support for a strong low-carbon economy and demonstrated commitment to renewable energy projects by ensuring that 60% of energy comes from renewable sources by 2030. The party’s planned industrial strategy will support businesses to “create new, high-skilled, high-paid and secure work across the country, in the sectors of the future such as renewables.”
Labour also specifically committed to supporting new nuclear and tidal projects.

Other parties pledge energy efficiency and renewables.

Energy also featured prominently in the manifestos of the other parties.

The Liberal Democrats committed to delivering a Zero-Carbon Britain Act in its manifesto, published 17 May, setting more ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050. Their manifesto focussed particularly on reducing bills through energy efficiency advances and encouraging small-scale, community and local-authority renewable schemes. Specifically, the party would pass a new Green Buildings Act to set new energy-efficiency targets, reducing energy bills and carbon emissions as well as creating jobs. The party would specifically seek to extend the zero carbon homes standard to non-domestic buildings by 2022.

Finally, the SNP gave specific emphasis on pressing the Westminster Government to include onshore wind in its industrial strategy. The party will demand an increased focus on offshore wind, tidal energy and wave power.

The SNP will press the Government for assurance that the oil and gas industry will be treated as a high priority in Brexit negotiations, as well as demanding fresh support for the oil and gas sector.

Overall, all the parties pledge an increased level of intervention in the energy market, consistently pledging lower bills for energy consumers.

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