Chris Huhne was hardly convincing as he gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee yesterday over the findings of the Electricity Market Reform consultation.
Mr Huhne stuck to his guns over the backbone of his reform package, the ‘four pillars’, but was greeted by cynicism from the committee members who were far from convinced by the process of the consultation. Chair of the Select Committee, Tim Yeo MP asked: “Is it fair that investors are holding off the longer process goes on?”
Similarly, Laura Sandys MP, showed concern that Mr Huhne hadn’t thought of a back-up plan if he couldn’t raise the £200 billion needed to re-create Britain’s energy infrastructure.
However, the Energy Secretary was adamant that ultimately the consumer would be saving money in the long term. He said: “We produced an estimation of the overall impact of all our policies on the British consumer. We calculated that the extra impact on bills would be 1%. The crucial thing is to assume what happened to oil and gas prices. People say these are expensive policies, but these will be a lower cost for the consumer.”
Mr Huhne admitted that the Department for Energy and Climate Change had got their decision for solar Feed-in Tariffs wrong but defended their decision: “The alternative to announcing the review would have been worse. Frankly we got it wrong with anaerobic digestion also.”
While members of the committee also showed signs of worry over how much subsidy levels might change over the coming years, Mr Huhne responded: “Who knows what will happen to energy prices over a twenty year period? I certainly don’t.”
Mr Huhne was reluctant to agree with Mr Yeo’s hopeful estimation for a Government White paper being ready by July. The EMR saga, continues…