The Challenges for Ed
A new cabinet appointment will always make headlines, especially when the previous candidate leaves among controversy, but the media attention that’s greeted the arrival of Ed Davey as Energy and Climate Change Secretary has been considerable.
Of course, he’s from the Lib Dem camp, as was Chris Huhne, so that in itself is interesting for the ‘boardroom’ dynamics of a coalition government. But more than that, it appears his commitment to the environment and to aiding the development of “our own energy production that’s clean and green” has already cast him as a potential knight in shining armour among those in favour of a green economy. (A quick read of his profile also reveals that he rescued a woman who’d fallen on a railway line in 1995 – so he’s already got hero form.) His appointment is seen by many to shore up David Cameron’s commitment to creating “the greenest government ever”. So all eyes are now on Davey to see how he performs.
Overseeing the transition to a low-carbon economy has many challenges. Even some of his own colleagues in government are creating problems, with the recent demands from 101 conservative MPs to cut the subsidies that windfarms receive and make it easier for nimbys to block the building of new onshore farms. But he has supporters too, some even in opposition. I recall another Ed – this one a Milliband – saying that opposing wind farms should be “socially unacceptable” when he was Climate Change Secretary back in March 2009.
No doubt Davey is in for lots of interesting debate as he tries to steer a course to keep the UK’s energy policy on track. One thing that’s sure though: if we want to guarantee a secure and affordable energy supply in the future, the UK has got to develop other sources of energy generation, including renewable technology.
It’s good news then that Britain is so well placed to exploit natural resources from wind and wave power. Solar power is also envisaged to fill part of the gap, but Davey is faced with a complicated inheritance with regards to resolving issues over subsidies. It will be interesting to see if he continues with Huhne’s plan to pursue a Supreme Court appeal to cut the feed-in-tariff rates.
Energy efficiency is another important part of the mix, as guest blogger Andrew Buckley of the Major Energy Users Group discussed last week
[https://www.npower.com/at_home/tactical/energyblog/EnergyBlog.aspx?archivecontent=iandc_blog_02.02.12] I read that Davey has already unleashed a 50-strong team from DECC – the new Energy Efficiency Deployment Office – to inspire homes and businesses to embrace greater fuel efficiency measures, and also to help co-ordinate the delivery of the forthcoming Green Deal. So it will be interesting to take part in DECC’s latest consultation on Electricity Demand Reduction – seen by many as a sensible precursor to the more sweeping Electricity Market Reform. (If you have views you’d like us to represent, do consider attending a forthcoming MEUC roadshow, where we’ll be particularly interested to hear from businesses on what you genuinely need to become more energy efficient.) [https://www.meuc.co.uk/2012-spring-regional-roadshows—npower]
So will Davey deliver? There’s no doubt he’s got a tough job ahead. But we will wait with interest – and optimism – and hope he’s got what it takes.
Wayne Mitchell, Head of Industrial & Commercial Markets, npower
Wayne Mitchell heads up npower’s Industrial & Commercial Markets division, which provides energy and risk management services to some of the UK’s largest businesses. Wayne has ultimate responsibility for npower’s corporate clients and commercial relationships as well as proposition development and marketing.
Wayne has worked in the energy industry for 15 years, starting as an analyst for an energy consultancy before moving into business development and pricing with npower. After a brief spell with a competitor Wayne rejoined npower in February 2009, this time focussing on strengthening relationships with external energy consultants and became Head of Indirect Sales in 2010, before taking up his current position.
Wayne has born in 1975, has a BSc in Resource Development and is married with a daughter.