UK Government To Sidestep Climate Targets
Ministers are planning to build dozens of gas power stations in an attempt to reduce energy bills, in defiance of green campaigners.
The Times can reveal that the Government wants to sidestep climate change targets in an effort to stem soaring electricity prices. In an exclusive interview, Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said that he wanted to introduce a loophole which would allow new fossil fuel plants to be built.
The news comes as millions of households will be left “reeling” by a sharp rise in energy costs. British Gas, the country’s biggest supplier, is expected to announce today that it will add up to £100 to the average annual fuel bill for its 12 million customers.
The increase, about 8 per cent, will further hit households already paying an average of £1,260 on dual-fuel bills for gas and electricity.
It was denounced by consumer groups. One said it would mean that some customers would be unable to heat their homes this winter. “It is the death knell for any hope that suppliers would hold off from price rises until after winter,” Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said.
“Consumers will be bitterly disappointed. The pressure of an extra £100 or so on energy bills will leave many buckling and forced to face another winter when they are scared to turn on heating for fear of cost.”
A British Gas spokesman refused to comment on its price plans. The company warned in May that it would have to raise bills this year because of higher wholesale gas prices and the rising cost of the Government’s environmental and home insulation programmes.
Other energy companies are also set to raise prices. Scottish and Southern Energy is due to put up its charges by an average 9 per cent on Monday, and the other big suppliers typically follow British Gas’s lead.
The move will increase the numbers of “fuel poor”, defined as when a household spends more than 10 per cent of disposable income to properly heat a home. Currently more than one household in four is in fuel poverty.
Mr Davey hopes that his idea will allow long-term energy prices to fall. He argues that consumers could be spared the cost of subsidising new wind farms and nuclear reactors by building new gas plants, which would be offset by other parts of the economy, such as transport, going green more cheaply.
But the idea will anger environmental groups, who warn that it will undermine green targets and deter investment in low carbon energy generation.