Ed Davey told ELN Labour’s energy policy in regard to price freezes was “intellectually bankrupt” and would do nothing but add uncertainty to the energy picture.
When asked if Labour had hijacked the consumer agenda and left him and the Government on the back foot, the Energy Secretary said: “Labour’s policy is a con. Suppliers can push up prices before and after their price freeze so everyone knows it won’t work.
“But it’s worse than that, it will affect investment, newspapers are running stories of investors unwilling to invest in power stations that will keep the lights on and it undermines competition as well. Small suppliers who are taking on the Big Six will be hit by Labour’s policy, don’t believe me, listen to them.
“So Labour’s policy is a con, it undermines competition and investment so it is intellectually bankrupt.”
Earlier the Energy Secretary who was speaking at the inaugural Energy UK conference came with a series of brickbats to hit the sector with, as he set about showing he was concerned with the plight of consumers.
He told delegates: “I have come today to deliver a tough message, trust between the companies who supply energy and those who use it has broken down. They [consumers] fear the big energy companies are taking them for a ride when bills go up.
“Fair or not, consumers look at the big suppliers and they see a reflection of the greed that consumed the banks. So this is a “Fred the Shred” moment for the industry to avoid the relational fate of the banks.”
Mr Davey went on to announce a series of measures to improve trust and get the suppliers to open up their books to closer scrutiny and accountability. But on the day that EDF announced a lower than market rate price rise, he stopped short of saying the market wasn’t working and praised it for the contribution it makes to UK plc.
Responding to Mr Davey’s comments Angela Knight, CEO of Energy UK told ELN: “He slapped us over the hands with a ruler by issuing a piece of his speech earlier so he could get on the TV bulletins but he came in to give his speech and was far more calm and inclusive.
“It is good political sport to hit a company for putting up a price. The reality of what’s under that price as we’ve shown today is all the other things that are added onto the bill.
“From a political perspective you don’t like the price, from a practical perspective a lot of it comes from your policy domain so the big question he’s gone away with is… What’s going to happen next?”