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How will we pay for the Energy Bill? With our energy bills!

An illuminated light bulb on green grass

Excuse me while I have a Dr Evil from Austin Powers moment, but – ‘one hundred and ten b-i-l-l-i-o-n pounds’. That’s what the government thinks we need to update our ageing energy system and keep the lights on.

It sounds like a lot of money. No, let’s be clear, it is a lot of money. So the natural next question is who’s going to foot the bill? And the answer? Yes, you’ve guessed it, we will.

Not through our taxes though, oh no. The cost of ensuring that energy companies invest in new energy generation is going to be added to our ever increasing gas and electricity bills.

Investing in the future

This investment is needed. None of us want power cuts to be a feature of our daily lives. And since our creaking energy infrastructure needs a major overhaul, it makes absolute sense to ensure that we’re reliant on cleaner, greener alternatives in the future – such as renewable energy and nuclear.

Meanwhile the cost of doing nothing and relying on importing gas from overseas could be just as – or even more – expensive. This is why the government’s Energy Bill, published today, is so necessary.

Keeping a close eye on costs

My point is that we’re being asked to collectively cough up billions to pay for this investment (businesses will foot the bill too). It is only natural that we expect some assurances from the government that it will be delivered at the lowest possible cost..

This requires some basic things to be put in place. There needs to be transparency about the contracts negotiated between the government and energy generators. There’s got to be scrutiny of the decisions made by ministers with a clear role for consumer representatives to make sure that contracts deliver value for money. And contracts need to be presented to Parliament before they are signed, to make sure that the government is held to account for their decisions.

You would expect this for any other major public project. Think about the level of scrutiny that the Olympic Games costs were put under – and their budget was £9.3 billion. Or think about how the £3.6 billion High Speed Two rail project costs have been put under the microscope.

With energy prices right at the top of your financial concerns, it is absolutely vital that ministers make sure that this process is as rigorous and robust as possible. And Which? will be poring over the Bill over the next few weeks and pressing for it to be toughened so that affordability for consumers is right at its heart.

Comments
Member

These Thousands of wind turbines are going to need renewed in 25 years time, given they have been built with government subsidies and they are £50K a time why should the public have to pay the energy companies to renew this short term misguided policy by Governments. These token gestures to green energy are totally in effect experiments the whole policy is flawed.

Member
alex hardie says:
30 November 2012

Tthe policy the Government is embarking of is one that shows they have no social conscience once again the poor will pay for rich peoples energy. Massive grants are being given to rich landowners to install wind energy projects, one of my multi millionaire neighbours is now getting free energy and making money form the grid while the rest of us see increases see in our electricty bill. I believe the Government should help with research to help with new power technology but to support companies who could not survive without public subsidy is just making bad companies wore

Member
2squirrels says:
30 November 2012

How often are we supposed to change our insulation, windows, low energy appliances, draught exclusion etc. we know sooner do it than they come up with another move of the goal posts. I think there have been 4 different gaps and types of glass for double glazing which is ax major expense, once lofts are insulated they become either another room or store age so very difficult to redo, if walls have insulation put into them how are you supposed to get it out and redo it. There are many silly suggestions we can only go down that Road once. Constant changes of government and policies is a very big problem in the UK as each time future plans and policies are changed and money wasted.

Member

Suddenly out of the blue comes this…I do not trust anymore this government’s plans…how much extra profit do the big Energy Companies make out of this idea…???

Member

Surely future investment should be made only by the companies that provide our energy? The government could pledge to support them if needed as it would be a massive investment, but they’ll be continuing to make profits in the long term, won’t they? We seem to have an odd system of many industries that we feel we can’t survive without, banking, energy, post offices, public transport to name a few, so we expect the government to support us (the public) by making sure that we get a ‘fair’ deal. It seems we’re stuck halfway between wanting state owned on one hand, but also wanting the competition that private ownership brings, and the government not wanting the responsibility, although they step in when things go horribly wrong and we all get fed up! Surely this sends mixed messages to both the provider and the consumer about who is responsible for what and really only gives us the worst of both?

Member
Keith Clark says:
2 December 2012

The problem with this idea is so many of the energy companies are foriegn owned, assisting them would be similair to shovelling foriegn aid without any real controle as to how the money is spent, the fault lies originally with Maggie Thatcher whoes idea it was to sell the nationalaly owned companies off into private hands thus allowing them to gradualy be owned by investors abroard who saw a very rich gravey train in the offing

Member

I’d prefer to blame all subsequent governments for not buying up shares here and there once the badly performing energy companies had been turned round.

Member

William

I don’t believe that the government needs to buy shares in the companies. What it does need to do is to regulate their operation properly, and get a move on doing this.

Member
Peter Elliott says:
30 November 2012

Energy minister Ed Davey has unveiled the government’s much-trailed Energy Bill, setting out the roadmap for the UK’s switch to “a low-carbon economy”.

Energy firms can increase the “green” levy from £3bn to £7.6bn a year by 2020, potentially increasing household bills by £100.

Question: If this “levy money” is being used to re-generate these energy firms, then surely the households have some rights to become shareholders via their contibutions ?