July 24, 2012

Dave, Ed and George Argue About Energy

Some more background information has come to light concerning the apparent confusion within the UK government about their renewables obligations.  The Guardian has printed what it claims is a letter dated July 9th from George Osborne to Ed Davey discussing in particular a reduction in ROCs for onshore wind. Quoting from that letter:

Beyond 2013-14 we need to find a sensible resolution to the position regarding onshore wind on balance I am content to start with a reduction of 0.9 ROCs. However, I am only prepared to agree this if we also agree either a further reduction in the ROCs in this parliament or a review point in 2013-14 to assess costs and the scope for such a reduction.

We need to set out an approach which puts the cost to consumers at its heart. This would include a statement which gives a clear, strong signal that we regard unabated gas as able to play a core part of our electricity generation to at least 2030 – not just providing back-up for wind plant or peaking capacity.

On this basis I think we would be able to proceed to publish the RO proposals before the summer recess.

As we now know that didn't happen, so the obvious conclusion is that Ed didn't agree with George's proposal. In an article about the letter the Guardian assures us that:

David Cameron has been urged to intervene in a rapidly escalating row between the chancellor and the energy secretary that threatens to derail planned reforms to the UK's energy sector.

The Guardian then quotes the views of a variety of people on this sorry state of affairs, including those of Tim Yeo. Perhaps the most pithy remark was made by John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, who said that:

Osborne is becoming a threat to the climate, to energy customers and to the economy. He has declared war on one of the UK's only growth sectors, actively plotting to destroy green jobs and industries. His meddling is driving up bills, locking us in to decades of dirty fossil fuel use and making energy policy unworkable. It's time Cameron pulled the plug. I wouldn't trust his chancellor to run a bath.

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