I speculated this month somewhat idly on whether the UK or US energy secretary would be the first to quit his post. Many in the gossipy world of Westminster politics are betting on an imminent departure of Chris Huhne. But after one of the stormiest weekends of his political life, it is difficult to say whether he is now stronger or weaker.
The story that might yet kill Huhne’s political career, at least in the short term, is entirely non energy-related. Police are considering whether to investigate claims that he asked another person to take driving penalty points on his behalf for a speeding offence. He denies any wrongdoing.
While the lack of a coherent national energy policy is nothing new for the US, Standard & Poor’s ratings service says in a new report that Washington’s current inability to definitively establish long-lasting energy policies and regulations distinguishes today’s situation from earlier eras. I quote:
Making resource decisions and committing a utility’s balance sheet to support those decisions has never been more complicated or littered with more potential pitfalls, and diminishing credit quality is a result.
Clear policy direction and consistent application by all branches of government of the various policies, ideally with maximum flexibility and abundant time for implementation, would benefit utility bondholders by promoting credit stability.
Another day, another complaint about the carbon floor price. This controversial policy has united an unlikely alliance of green campaigners and heavy industry in opposition.
Greens don’t like it because it benefits the nuclear industry, while manufacturers are disgruntled about having to pay more for electricity.
But Greenpeace and WWF had a legitimate claim that government policy was incoherent – on the one hand promising no subsidies to nuclear power but at the same time implementing a policy that could indeed earn such generators billions of pounds. The EEF, which represents manufacturers, on the other hand, is criticising the energy department for doing exactly what it intends to do: push up the cost of energy.
As reported in the FT on Monday, green campaigners in the UK have stepped up their attack on the carbon floor price, calling it a “windfall” for the nuclear industry.
They first made this warning in the immediate aftermath of the electricity market reform announcement, but now Greenpeace and WWF have put some numbers to their arguments.
They say the move could benefit the nuclear industry by up to £3.4bn, which would effectively be a subsidy, and so breach the coalition agreement.
Many apologies to all of those who sent in questions, but we are having to delay Chris Huhne’s Q&A session until the new year, as the energy secretary has not yet been able to answer all your questions.
His answers will appear on this site in early January – date to be confirmed in the new year.
Apologies again, and thanks for your patience.
Two days ago, before Chris Huhne announced his package of measures to shake up the UK electricty market, a group of energy industry insiders and experts told Energy Source what they wanted to see from the reforms. Now that we know the details, and people have had time to figure out what they mean, the question remains, did they get what they wanted?
Chris Huhne this morning criticised a Telegraph headline – suggesting bills would rise by £500 because of his energy reforms – as “ludicrous” and “absolutely bonkers”.
The splash quoted uSwitch predicting that bills would rise per household by £500 from their current average energy bill of £1,157. (Although it’s not clear by when). Huhne said the rise would instead by from £500 per household to £660 by 2030.
Chris Huhne, the UK energy secretary, will tomorrow announce the details and scope of the government’s consultation on electricity market reform (EMR). The bill will come before parliament in the spring, but tomorrow’s announcement is expected to give some indications of the direction of government thought on certain key issues.
Huhne will be answering your EMR-related questions on this blog next week – email email@example.com by Friday, December 17th to pose your question. Meanwhile, here is what the energy industry wants to see ahead of the tomorrow’s release:
Many thanks for all your questions for Peter Voser, Shell’s chief executive. His answers will appear on this site on Friday, December 17th.
Next week, the person in the hotseat will be Chris Huhne, the UK energy secretary. The government will shortly begin consultations on how it should reform the electricity market. This is your chance to ask him about anything electricity-related: from whether and how the UK can reach its emissions and renewables targets, to the role of nuclear power and whether it can thrive without government subsidy, to how customers can get the fairest deal possible.
Email all your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of Friday, December 17th.
Sara Vaughan, image by Eon
In the first of a new series of readers’ Q&A sessions, Sara Vaughan, Eon UK’s head of energy policy and regulation, tackles the burning questions you wanted answering. Eon is Germany’s largest energy company and is heavily involved in the UK market.
In the first of two parts, Sara talks about why the changes to the carbon reduction commitment could be a good thing, how to reform the energy market and the future of carbon capture and storage.
In the second part, to be published later this morning, she will discuss the obstacles to building new nuclear plants, how the UK measures up on low-carbon technology and the limitations of a carbon floor price.
Next in the hotseat is Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Vestas, the world’s biggest manufacturer of wind turbines. Send in your questions by the end of Friday, November 26th for consideration, to email@example.com.
But for now, over to Sara: