Labour: We’ll streamline energy rules, end cold homes “scandal”

The Labour Party laid out the scale of its ambition for energy efficiency across the country today, pledging to “end the scandal of cold homes” in 15 years. As well […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The Labour Party laid out the scale of its ambition for energy efficiency across the country today, pledging to “end the scandal of cold homes” in 15 years.

As well as the domestic consumers pledge was a promise of “streamlined” regulations for business energy users and a “long-term strategy” to boost energy saving in non-domestic buildings.

Ahead of the General Election next year, the party released a paper picking on “multiple and often overlapping” demands on firms for information about their energy use.

This is a common complaint from major energy users grappling with EU and UK policy demands.

Criticising the “uneven incentives” this gives to saving energy, the Labour paper points out the carbon tax or CRC, the new mandatory energy audits called ESOS, mandatory greenhouse gas reporting, energy performance certificates, Display Energy Certificates which covers all public buildings of more than 500m2, as well as plans for non-domestic smart metering from 2020.

Some businesses who have called on government to scrap all these different policies and give them one may see a glimmer of hope in the party’s Green Paper.

In it, Labour said it will consult on moving to a “single, easily enforceable and comparable source of information for the majority of businesses”.

The Coalition’s Energy Secretary Ed Davey recently sidestepped a question about merging ESOS, GHG reporting and the CRC at the Energy Live 2014 conference last week, by suggesting they push businesses out of inaction and towards energy efficiency.

On the home front

Meanwhile on the household front, Labour’s paper pledged to offer:

– half a million “personalised” home energy reports a year offering tips on insulation;

– free energy efficient improvements for 200,000 households in or at risk of fuel poverty a year;

– interest free loans for up to one million households to cover the costs of energy efficiency improvements during the next Parliament.

Labour also promised to designate energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority if it wins the next election under the proposed National Infrastructure Commission.

Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint bashed the Tories’ “failing plan”, adding: “Labour has already set out radical plans to freeze energy prices until 2017, saving the average household £120 and fix the energy market for the future, with a tough new regulator to curb rip-off bills.

“But one of the main reasons our energy bills are so high is that our homes are some of the least energy efficient in Europe – leaking heat from their roofs, walls and windows.”

Energy suppliers aren’t convinced by plans for a price freeze, while the Government disputes the need for a new regulator.