The UK needs new power stations and renewable energy sources to meet demand. The Energy Bill has laid out plans for huge investment in infrastructure, but who is making sure that the cost isn’t passed on to us?
Another week, another story about the rising cost of energy. This week it’s the turn of the influential parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to weigh in on the issue. This morning it issued a report on the infrastructure needed to carry power generated by offshore wind back to land.
And, as so often seems to be the case, the report brought criticism for the way contracts worth billions of pounds were awarded. The Committee has said the contracts gave generators a very generous return at the expense of consumers, who will pick up the tab.
The PAC’s report focuses on transmission licences for offshore wind generation that could cost £17bn. It is timely, appearing in the same week that Parliament will begin to scrutinise the Energy Bill, which is focused on a much bigger financial investment in our energy system.
Taking a closer look at the Energy Bill
The Energy Bill will set out the framework for how energy is procured and generated for decades to come. The government estimates that £110bn of investment in new low carbon electricity generation is needed. Not a decision to be taken lightly, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Whether the contracts are for nuclear power, onshore or offshore wind or any other method of generation for that matter, it is of the utmost importance that they are awarded in a way that delivers the best possible price for you and me.
I don’t want to see contracts negotiated behind closed doors, which mainly serve to make energy generators richer and bill payers poorer. PAC’s report is further evidence that we need to see proper accountability and scrutiny that delivers value for money.
Are you happy to pay the price?
In recent wind farm Conversations, you have shared your thoughts on paying for energy infrastructure. Commenter Gordon C is sceptical about the real costs:
‘If the customer provides the capital as seems to be proposed, where is the incentive for the companies to keep costs down to a minimum?’
Wavechange wants people to face up to our energy needs:
‘We have had a lot of comments about the cost of subsidising wind power. That’s fair enough, but it is time to make everyone aware that the cost of energy is rising for other reasons too. Anyone who believes that we can carry on relying exclusively on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future needs to wake up to reality.’
Do you think that energy infrastructure companies will be motivated to provide a good service if they have a guaranteed income for 20 years? What’s the best way to fund improvements to energy supplies?