Tag Archives: energy bill

Dawn Butler and Jeremy Corbyn launch #PrePayRipOff campaign

February 2016: The Kilburn Times reports that Brent Central MP,  Dawn Butler, and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (who is also the Islington North MP) have launched a campaign in the House of Commons to tackle the higher costs of using prepayment gas and electricity meters. The campaign was kick-started with the launch of a petition on behalf of more than 13,000 residents in Brent who use the prepayment method.

Following on from an Early Day Motion (EDM) on prepayment meters put forward by Dawn Butler, the Brent MP held a debate in the House of Commons on the 1st of December 2015 highlighting that her “constituency has one of the highest numbers of people on PPMs in the country—at 26%, it is 10% above the national average—and those on PPMs pay on average £226 more a year than those with the cheapest direct debit deals.” (full transcript here – youtube video here).

The Kilburn Times also reported that Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan was at the campaign launch where he said “One in five households in London have no choice but to use prepayment meters to pay their bills. This could be costing the most disadvantaged families in the capital an additional £140 million a year. “I am calling on the energy companies to automatically give Londoners the best possible deal on their energy tariffs and ensure the most disadvantaged in our communities are given reduced standing rates.”

Another London politician supporting the campaign is East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

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London and the Energy Bill

19 June 2013: Points of interest to London in yesterday’s 6-hour second reading of the Energy Bill in the House of Lords included:

  • Lord Teverson’s mention of the GLA’s work on ‘licence lite’One of the unsung things in the energy market is licence lite, which is being explored by the Greater London Authority. It is about small independent producers, in particular community schemes, being able to supply directly through local networks to final consumers at a consumer price, thus not needing subsidy for that energy. I would like to explore how that great initiative—unsung by DECC, I think—can be expanded more quickly and effectively throughout the United Kingdom.
    As I said earlier, it was 2010 when the initial consultation document was produced. We need now to make sure that this Bill gets through this House, gets through it on time and lands on the statute book, so that those investors, however nervous, can invest.” [col 152]
  • A useful intervention by The Lord Bishop of London with the following “I echo many of the points already made in this debate, but I shall not repeat them. At the same time, from a London perspective, with our growing population and increasing demand for electricity, which could be as much as 4% a year, I am also clear that the Mayor’s call for a change in the system which currently prevents distribution network operators from installing more capacity in the network without first receiving a formal request for a connection to the system from individual developers, deserves immediate and urgent attention.
    In the limited time available, I want to focus on energy demand reduction, which an institution in our position has very much at heart. We have been exploring how to improve our own energy efficiency; there has been some success in my own diocese of London, where over a six-year period we have been able to save about 22% of our energy use. But like others, we need the help of government to achieve the next level. My question to the Minister is: will she undertake to amend Clause 37 to bring forward multiple pilot schemes for incentivising a reduction in energy demand, allowing not only for a capital market pilot but a premium payments pilot and enabling ordinary households as well as big business to be rewarded for demand reduction?” [continues – see col 155 onwards]
  • DECC’s Minister in the House of Lords Baroness Verma also responded to a question that “He also asked about the feed-in tariffs from five megawatts to 10 megawatts. I am currently looking at that and I hope to have some further details to impart in Committee.” (see here and here and here for more on why this is particularly relevant for London)
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Community Energy in the Energy Bill

13 June 2013: The House of Commons Library has issued a useful briefing note on the Energy Bill. Included in the note is a summary of  discussions on concerns of how community energy schemes will operate under the new complex electricity market reform (EMR) regime.

The note highlights the key issues with the following text:

“Community Energy Schemes

“In its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Energy Bill, the Energy and Climate Change Committee concluded that the proposed CFDs were unlikely to work for smaller electricity providers, such as community schemes. It heard evidence that the problems for smaller-scale projects included:

  • A lack of financial capability to deal with the complexities and uncertainties of CFDs, resulting in high transaction costs; and
  • Difficulties in obtaining the full reference price for the electricity they generate, resulting in lower income per unit of electricity generated.

(House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, Draft Energy Bill: Pre-legislative Scrutiny July 2012, HC 275-i of session 2012–13, para 66)

Continue reading…

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Is the Community Energy Strategy being kicked into the ‘long grass”?

February 2013: In a response given yesterday to a Parliamentary Question asking what the Government’s “policy is on support for localised renewable energy projects”, Energy Minister Greg Barker replied: “DECC is currently scoping a Community Energy Strategy and will publish a call for evidence in the spring.

DECC Ministers have previously stated that a consultation paper for the Community Energy Strategy would be issued in March 2013 – see transcript of Hansard here with the Secretary of State saying:

Mr Davey: Yes. We would then hope to finalise that community energy strategy before the summer recess, or it might end up going into the autumn.

The October 2012 minutes of the Government’s advisory board for the strategy, the Community Energy Contact Group (CECG), reflect a similar provisional timeline for the release of the Community Energy Strategy:

  • Informal consultation through the CECG (Mar-Apr)
  • (tbc) Formal consultation – Apr–Jul
  • (tbc) Publish Strategy – Aug-Sep

Similar time tabling references to the Strategy are also made in the Government’s recent Energy Efficiency Strategy (we’ll however leave to one side Greg Barker rather optimistic tweet in June 2012 that the strategy would be released “within months” which must have left DECC officials somewhat baffled at the time!).

So does it make any difference that DECC are now pointing to a ‘call for evidence’ being released in Spring 2013 rather than an actual draft consultation? Worryingly, it does bring to mind the process Government have been navigating the past five years in issuing policies to drive forward a heat strategy for the UK. A heat ‘call for evidence’ was first issued in 2008 by DECC’s predecessor department, BERR. This was followed by a consultation in 2009 for a Heat and Energy Saving Strategy which was then followed by a further Heat Consultation Strategy consultation in March 2012. We are now awaiting actual ‘policy proposals’ which are due to be released by DECC in March 2013.

Maybe the Community Energy Strategy will be pushed by Ministers more than heat policy has been to date. However – a move to the publication of a  ‘call for evidence’ rather than a draft consultation strategy must surely indicate that the original timelines set out to publish policies to support community-led energy projects are now behind schedule.

There are also indications in the CECG minutes that the Group are not entirely happy with progress to date. At the October 2012 meeting members “raised lack of progress on research requirements discussed at previous meeting as an outstanding issue” and that with regard to a proposed research paper – “members do not feel the current version reflects the previous meetings discussions and outcomes.” The Group’s previous meeting’s minutes also indicate that DECC resourcing for the initiative is limited (para 9) and that the work for the Community Energy Strategy appears to sit within DECC’s ‘Communication Directorate’, with the minutes stating that:

“The focus of the strategy should be community engagement, ideally setting out best practice and a model which all DECC community activity would follow… The Strategy could not seek to modify policies, except in respect to approaches to community partnership and community support. It may however recommend policy areas for further review.” [paras 10/11]

So – if the eventual strategy comes out a little late and doesn’t actually modify any policies at all, but simply sets out some advice and case studies on a website for communities to hopefully follow – does this in fact matter? Putting to one side that DECC do already have a mind-boggling (and not in a good way…) ‘Community Energy Online‘ website, with the Energy Bill current proposals making it more complex for the development of smaller scale generation schemes, it’s yet to be proved that DECC have the same level of ambition for the UK to achieve what has been seen in Germany which has now more than 80,000 German citizens come together in some 600 energy cooperatives”. Only time will tell…

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Household energy bills explained

18 January 2013: Ofgem have updated their useful factsheet on what makes up household energy tariffs (download here).

The notes states that:

  • It reflects gas and electricity prices in December 2012
  • The average gas bill for a standard account is £811 and for electricity it is £531
  • The average bills above are based on average annual consumption figures of 3,300 kWh for electricity and 16,500 kWh for gas
  • Environmental costs amount to 6% of gas bills and 11% of electricity bills – and currently amount to around £82 on a total energy (gas & electricity) annual bill.

Other references that go into this household energy bills in more detail are:

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The Energy Bill misses out “opportunity to support community energy co-operatives”

January 2013: Newly elected Labour MP for Croydon North, Steve Reed, made a welcome intervention in the December parliamentary debate on the Energy Bill correctly stating that the Bill “misses an opportunity to support community energy co-operatives”. As an example of what can be achieved by such schemes, Mr Reed gave details of the  Brixton Energy project:

“Brixton solar energy 1 was the country’s first urban energy generation co-operative and was set up by the local community in Brixton, working in co-operation with the local authority, Lambeth council…Brixton solar 1 was built on the roof of a social housing estate, Loughborough Park in Brixton. Brixton solar 2 is being built on another part of the same estate and a third scheme is planned for another estate in the area. The schemes are funded by community subscription and offer a 3% return to investors, most of whom are local. They are part-resourced by the local authority, which makes the buildings available.

Instead of supporting such schemes, the Bill offers smaller community generators lower market prices for their power, making them less financially viable, and it fails to recognise the administration costs needed to run them. The Bill also ends the renewables obligation, which means that suppliers have no incentive to purchase from independent generators such as Brixton solar energy.

Mr Reed should be familiar with the scheme as, until his appointment to Parliament, he was the Leader of Lambeth Council. He goes on to conclude with some really good recommendations:

“The Bill should be amended to increase the fixed feed-in tariff threshold for community projects, guarantee a market for community energy schemes and set a minimum annual target for new generation capacity from community schemes. I should like to see local authorities incentivised to lower overall household carbon emissions in their area, which they could do in part by supporting projects such as Brixton solar energy.”

Further detail on these can be found in some excellent research by Cornwall Energy undertaken for Co-operatives UK and published a few months ago.

It should be noted that Scotland has had a target since 2011 of 500 MW community and locally-owned renewable energy by 2020 (see here for details).

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