MPs have expressed concern over rising energy bills on the Royal Estate, after its utility bills soared 50% in just one year to more than £3 million, taking up 10% of the estate’s budget.
Royal aides came under fire from Public Accounts Committee for failing to take action to bring costs under control, with Labour MP Austin Mitchell suggesting budget problems had forced the Queen to live in “crumbling surroundings”.
Electricity use only rose slightly from 7.8 million kWh to 8 million kWh but gas use soared around 15% from 21 million kWh to 24.4 million kWh, “an enormous increase in gas consumption in one year” according to Liberal Democrat MP Ian Swales. Electricity generated from the estate’s CHP units also fell from 2.9 million kWh to 2.6 million kWh, while the amount of waste generated increased 9% over the year.
Mike Stevens, Deputy Treasurer to the Queen, blamed the rocketing gas use on a cold snap last year as well as old boilers in the palaces “which are nearing the end of their useful life and are probably not as efficient as some of the modern technology that we could obtain today.”
The defence didn’t go down well with Labour MP Nick Smith who said he was “shocked that the boilers in Buckingham Palace had not been changed for 60 years.”
Mr Stevens said the gas boilers would be replaced over the next three to five years at a cost of £500,000-£1,000,000. He said some steps had already been taken to cut energy use: “We have introduced smart meters across all the Estate, so that roundabout 95% of our energy usage is now being monitored through smart meters.”