Where’s the Big Yellow storage for gas when you need it?

I have to admit – however reluctantly – that I’m a bit of a hoarder. My other half will crow with delight when he reads my blog today because I […]

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By Vicky Ellis

I have to admit – however reluctantly – that I’m a bit of a hoarder.

My other half will crow with delight when he reads my blog today because I furiously deny this is the case 99% of the time.

Though I really do hate clutter, it’s often harder to chuck away non-essentials than you think.

But there are some things that are unquestionably good to keep in the cupboard. Baked beans or dried spaghetti, say, or warm woolly jumpers.

When winter swung around last year, the knitted cardigan I nearly ditched in the heat of our brief British heatwave was my new best friend.

Likewise for energy, it just seems logical to keep a bit of gas tucked away for a freezing cold, rainy day.

It’s a sensible idea that seems to have escaped the British Government.

Last September, Energy Minister Michael Fallon decided it was unnecessary to make suppliers keep a certain amount of gas in the UK over peak times of demand, i.e. winter, just in case.

(Just like I keep “emergency chocolate” stashed in my car’s glove compartment. You never know when you’ll need it!)

His reason? “The costs outweigh the benefits in all cases.”

This appears to be based on one possible outcome of several models run by analysts at Redpoint. One scenario found forcing suppliers to save some gas in the tank could put consumer bills up because the move would need subsidy. This was heavily emphasised by the Business and Energy Minister.

(Another scenario found an obligation to set gas aside would be far more beneficial).

As Centrica‘s Sam Laidlaw said this week the UK will soon rely on 70% imported gas, it seems Mr Fallon has chosen a high risk strategy.

Surely having more gas in storage on our green and pleasant isle would mean less risk of running out, making volatile gas prices less likely.

That’s critical for many industrial energy users. Last March, gas supply jitters because of low gas levels in storage coupled with a pipeline to the UK closing unexpectedly saw prices spike to around £1.50 per therm. That’s compared with around 60-65pence before the pipe outage.

The ginormous rise forced more than one large industrial to shut up shop until prices came down – something they and we as an economy can ill afford.

With Russian-Ukraine tensions rearing their ugly head again, UK ministers’ folly has been brought into the open once more.

Where’s the Big Yellow depot for gas when you need one?