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Ed Milliband’s Energy Problem… 

By Sara Scarlett
October 7th, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Comments Off on Ed Milliband’s Energy Problem…  | Posted in Energy

This doesn’t look like a very well-thought through intervention, on a number of levels.

First, the main reason there is a high degree of contact between the ‘big six’ and Government is there has been an Energy Bill every other year for the last decade, not to mention all the secondary legislation spinning off each one. The latest ‘Energy Market Reform’ is one of the most complex in history, and its success in no small part depends on the likes of EDF etc. following-up with real investment. If they weren’t speaking about this, a lot, they would be foolish.

Second, the principle architects of that ballooning complexity were the last Government. As the former Energy and Climate Change Secretary, the one who implemented the Climate Change Act, I’m not entirely sure Ed Miliband can exactly blame anyone else for that, bar himself.

Third, have his team gone through all the records of previous contacts between energy companies and the Labour Government from the period? I got the sense from the number of former Labour staff and activists working for the Big Six, including for example now Baroness Worthington, and Gordon Brown’s brother, there was a high degree of conversation and co-operation. Is he sure this Government is speaking to the Big Six less than his own?

Fourth, what now happens if there is another Labour Government? Can we expect energy policy by fiat, without consultation? Can the Energy companies only speak to Government if every letter is balanced by a commentary from an NGO or consumer group, regardless of relevance?

It’s smacks more than a little of more populism. Meanwhile the hard options Labour could review to really deliver lower energy prices, such as reducing barriers to competition, accelerating shale gas deployment, simplifying and reducing eco & social tariffs, shifting some renewable trials to more affordable markets, promoting international partnerships and so on are largely being left to the Coalition.