Lib Dem energy secretary Edward Davey was interviewed in The Guardian this weekend about the energy bill to be announced this week. The paper fillets the main points Ed made here:
• Insists that energy prices overall will be 7% lower than they otherwise would have been in the medium term as a result of government policy, even if prices in real terms may rise due to the worldwide energy market.
• Rejects talk of a government-sanctioned dash for gas as overblown, even if he concedes the Conservatives will big this up.
• Says shale gas will not have a significant short-term contribution to the UK energy mix.
The dispute between Davey and Hayes over the role of onshore windfarms in the energy mix spilled out into the TV studios and became so intense that at one point, Davey discloses, he felt compelled to seek legal advice on whether Hayes’s approach was making the department liable to accusations of bias and judicial review.
And here are a couple of choice quotes from his interview…
Davey emerged from the deal-making to talk up a victory. “Yes, it has taken a bit longer than I expected. It has been a bit more acrimonious than I expected in the sense that we had the statements by John Hayes, my deputy, which was never coalition policy. His behaviour probably made it appear more fractious than it was under the surface.” Davey had Hayes foisted on him as minister of state, and immediately stripped him of renewable energy strategy, leaving him only with his renewable deployment. Davey now discloses: “When he made his statements on renewables against coalition policy, I did think there was a question mark over whether he should even continue to have responsibility for renewable energy deployment. I asked the legal department here whether there was a danger John had prejudiced himself because he had made these statements, and they said there was a danger. They said they could not say it would end up in judicial review, and challenging decisions in which he was involved, but there was a greater potential danger.”
“What we have agreed does not hit the Treasury at all. You get the investment, construction, jobs and growth now, while the cost is spread over 25 years, and you only start paying when the power station is constructed and starts generating. It will only hit bills much later on, by which time the economy will hopefully be doing a lot better and when other policies designed to reduce bills take effect and more than offset the impact on bills.”
He calls projections suggesting that his proposals could increase bills by as much as £180 “nonsense figures”. “The impact on bills is that the costs will rise from today’s 2% figure on average bills, roughly £20, so that by the end of the decade it will gradually rise to 7% on average bills – just under £100. I have never hidden that this will have an impact. It’s what we have said will happen for many years. But equally, if you look at all our green policies, the help on fuel poverty and green efficiency, our estimate is that by 2020 the average bill will be 7% lower than it would have otherwise been – in today’s prices, £94. If we do the energy efficiency, this can be afforded.”
You can read Ed’s interview in full here.
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