Survey launched into energy sector red tape

The energy sector is being asked where it wants to cut red tape. The utility and energy industry is being asked for its views as part of the coalition’s plan […]

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By Sumit Bose

The energy sector is being asked where it wants to cut red tape. The utility and energy industry is being asked for its views as part of the coalition’s plan to cut bureaucracy across the whole of government. Ironically, the survery begins on October 27th, almost three months after the planned publication of the Energy Bill White Paper which is expected to have the most complex changes to legislation for 25 years.

The ‘Red Tape Challenge’ was launched in April with the aim of getting feedback from different industries to help simplify the regulatory landscape for businesses. Energy giant npower is getting behind the campaign and has produced a survey it wants anyone in the industry to fill in.

Launching it at a business breakfast event yesterday, David Cockshott, director of industrial and commercial markets at npower, said: “We know from conversations with our own customers that businesses find it difficult keeping track of the legislation or potential legislation affecting them, from the EMR to the CRC. Now businesses can tell the government exactly what policies they think should be scrapped, merged with existing regulation, simplified or left as they are.”

DECC’s Head of Retail Markets Tanya Sheridan was on hand to explain why the survey was needed: “This government wants to reduce regulation. If enough people object to something the policy now is Ministers will have to make a case for that legislation to be kept. From October 27th its the turn of the utilities regulations to be challenged. We want to reduce the sense of burden on businesses.”

Ms Sheridan heard calls for clearer simpler regulation. Dr Bernd Leven, head of Smart Energy at BT said the government should start with the laws on carbon.

“There’s too much overlapping policy on carbon, we have the CCL (climate change levy), CRC (carbon reduction commitment) and EUETS (EU emissions trading scheme) as well as now a carbon price floor in the EMR (electricity market reform), this leads to poor price certainty. We believe the existing policy leaves no room for the market to decide the source of energy to buy and the CRC is over administrative as its now simply a tax,” he said.

In March npower asked 100 businesses about the EMR nearly half of companies surveyed believed it would be complex and unwieldy for business. Similarly, research conducted to coincide with the first anniversary of the CRC found that 45% of businesses want to see the scheme scrapped.

The red tape survey will look at both ‘stock’ – laws that are already on the statute books and ‘flow’ – legislation which is due to come into law. As such the fact the energy sector gets its say three months after the summer white paper shouldn’t mean its too late to scrap unpopular legislation claims DECC.

A spokesman told ELN: “The Government is keen to reduce regulation. We want to hear what could be repealed or simplified to reduce business burdens and/or increase individual freedom. Any new regulations that result from DECC policies are scrutinized on a case by case basis by the Regulatory Policy Committee.”

You can take part in the survery by visiting www.npower.com/redtape.