More cash for Big Power

Winser - UK's biggest energy waster
Winser - UK's biggest energy waster

At  last – the UK energy regulators have woken up to what everyone else has been saying for months – Britain’s energy infrastructure is crumbling – and massive price rises, plus probable power outages, face the British consumer for the next five years.
The electricity industry is delighted at the announcement – they expect the result will be more subsidies to build a bigger and more wasteful energy infrastructure.  They are already demanding cash for the so-called smart grid.  Now companies like EDF, the French nuclear giant, want an increase in subsidies for “clean“ energy such as nuclear, so it can get increased payments for more nuclear reactors
According to Dow Jones ”U.K. utilities welcomed proposals from gas and electricity regulator Ofgem  for a radical shakeup in regulations that will lead to more government intervention in the liberalized energy market.” Isn’t this a sign that Ofgem have got it wrong?
The positive response from Big Power  reflects the huge cost of the challenges gas and power companies face in replacing aging energy infrastructure or adapting it to a low carbon future.
“EDF Energy welcomes [Ofgem’s] recognition of the need for reform of the U.K. energy market,” said the utility’s Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz. “Changes to the market are needed if we are to meet the challenge facing the U.K. to provide clean, secure and affordable energy.”
217y2ofkoil-_sl160_-2242775The one assumption that nobody is questioning is whether to continue to enhance the existing, wasteful national grid. The billions could be more effectively spent developing locaql micro-grids.
The U.K.’s gas and electricity network operator National Grid PLC (NGG), which will have to make huge future investments connecting new power plants and wind farms, also welcomed Ofgem’s proposals.
“The current framework has served us well, but it makes simple common sense that it will have to change to meet the big challenges ahead,” said Nick Winser, National Grid’s director of transmission. “The right market arrangement and incentives will be vital to the success of all the work National Grid is doing to prepare for the future.”
EDF Energy, the U.K. arm of French state-controlled Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR), is the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the British Isles and plans massive investment in a new fleet of reactors. The company has said in the past that additional government action, such as setting a floor price for carbon dioxide emissions allowances, may be necessary to build low carbon technology, such as new nuclear plants, on the scale required.
Ofgem  said that the financial crisis and uncertainty over future carbon prices, following the weak agreement at the Copenhagen climate change summit, cast doubt on whether the free market can deliver the GBP200 million investment needed to secure energy supplies over the next 10 to 15 years.
“We agree with Ofgem that uncertainty in future carbon prices risks delaying investment in low carbon technology,” said de Rivaz. “We believe that a priority action should be to establish greater long-term clarity on the carbon price…the U.K. could do this independently if necessary.”
Industry lobby group, the Association of Electricity Producers, expressed some skepticism about Ofgem’s most radical proposal–a central energy buyer that would determine the amount and type of new generation needed and enter into long-term energy contracts for power.
“The industry is plagued with political and regulatory uncertainty,” said David Porter, Chief Executive of the AEP. “The last time we changed the electricity trading arrangements it took three or four years to complete.”

2 Responses

  1. It is very interesting to read about how so many foreign companies have elbowed their way in now run our energy and general infrastructure, gas, electricity, water, buses, trains, its interesting this was all privatised in the “interest of the ‘consumer”, who is now paying way over the odds for everything. The national grid, public transport and all the utilities when they were under public ownership worked well, were well regulated and regarded as the best worldwide, since then of course crass greed has become the king, rather than the customer, look no further than the Houses of Parliament to see where all this lining of pockets, crass greed and corruption comes from.
    The sooner all the utility, energy and transport companies are re-nationalised the better, so progress is achieved for the country as a whole rather than the lining of foreign pockets, though I doubt that will ever happen, too many fingers at the top in too many pies.

  2. Predictably the existing power industry will attempt to maintain the status quo unless change means more money in their pockets. One sentence in particular caught my attention.
    “The one assumption that nobody is questioning is whether to continue to enhance the existing, wasteful national grid. The billions could be more effectively spent developing local micro-grids.’ Well of course not! shifting to local micro grids might threaten someones existing comfy job. Senior executives will fight tooth and nail to prevent this since it would mean a loss of profits to their investors and middle level management feels threatened because a diminished organization might mean their own job may become redundant. The rank and file worker may only see the potential loss of their particular job. This will range from the line men who maintain the wires of the grid and the generator operators to the billing clerks working in the administrative offices.
    Few people will have the entrepenurial spirit to see the potential for sales and installations involved in making thousands of micro-generating installations.

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