Editorial

So Ed’s at it today. Doing the rounds, battling the hacks as we try and convince him of a massive policy u-turn. But is that fair? The truth about today’s […]

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By Sumit Bose

So Ed’s at it today. Doing the rounds, battling the hacks as we try and convince him of a massive policy u-turn. But is that fair? The truth about today’s announcement and next week’s energy bill is this, we set an aspiration to be green when times were good and now the true cost of our ambition has become clear.

The £7 to 10 billion price tag for paying for renewable energy (and a bit of nuclear) will add on average more than £110 to household bills. Businesses have already started worrying what the cost will be for them as you can see from our coverage and green groups are haranguing Ed for not setting the 2030 decarbonising targets in stone. On top of all this we have public money pumped into a “counterparty” company that will basically act to guarantee investment that’s needed for our massive energy infrastructure upheaval. Finally snuck in was a commitment to bolster gas plant building with the creation of a Gas Generation Strategy to be announced by the man really behind next week’s Energy Bill, a certain George Osborne.

So we will have renewable investment but no set target because it’s clear we have a problem. Yes Houston the Eagle has not landed, it’s flying but with a wonky wing laden with the weight of reality. The reality is this – we need the energy companies to rebuild an energy infrastructure system endless Governments haven’t fixed and we need them to pay for it at the same time we want to appear green and sustainable. The two can go together but they come with a third prong that is now very painful.

It’s going to cost us.

That’s the real thing about today, policy hasn’t really had a U-turn, it’s just had a reality check. We will have to pay as a society to go green and that price is politically sensitive. Government has realised we have changed and what we can stomach for the good cause has changed too.

Going for £100 hit in our pockets might be about right but bashing the energy companies on the one hand and then asking them to foot the bill for expensive low carbon policies has led to today’s compromise. Next week we will get the Bill in full but the there will be few surprises.

It’s gas for now, a bit of green and lots of enticements in the pipeline to convince the world’s major finance houses and companies it’s worth punting cash into rebuilding the UK’s energy infrastructure.

Somehow I don’t think they’re convinced and so it’ll be the big suppliers who are here now, that Ed and his pals will have to turn to in the end.