UK Labour Party Suckered by Big Energy

Ed Milliband and Dale Vince outside Labour conference hall
Ed Milliband & Ecotricity boss Dale Vince – Back-slapping inside the Eco-chamber

Liverpool, UK – UPDATED 15.55 9/10/23 – The opposition Labour Party has launched its policy on modernising the grid.  It plays into the hands of the Energy Industry, and is set to be a disastrous and expensive mistake that will leave the UK dependent on foreign energy for the next decade and beyond.

The wrong-turn on energy policy was announced today at annual conference by failed former party leader Ed Milliband. The proposals will feature heavily in Labour’s election campaign.

The party aims to establish a UK electricity system fully based on clean power by 2030, with the largest expansion of renewable power in Britain’s history, and establish “GB Energy”, a publicly owned energy company announced by party leader Keir Starmer last year.

Labour intends it becomes law soon after a general election win. One source said the act showcased “modern public ownership, working with the private sector without the need to nationalise”. The history of private-public partnership in the UK is that it usually results in cost overuns, excessive bonuses and profits for the private partner, and endless delays in major projects.

In his speech on Monday, Miliband, the shadow secretary of state for energy security and net zero, rightly attacked the Conservatives’ record on energy security, saying the UK was the most exposed economy in western Europe to the energy price spike caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, telling Labour party conference: “You’re paying record energy bills because they left us exposed to Putin’s war. Every time they turn their back on a clean energy future, they leave us exposed to global fossil fuel markets, at the mercy of dictators and petrostates, driving up bills, making us more insecure.”

But the decision to play Big Energy at its own game is doomed to failure because of shortage of supply of the miles of copper cable needed to roll out the national grid to contain up to 300 Gigawatts of renewable energy currently planned, not to mention 150 Gw of new demand from planned housing estates and other developments.  Meanwhile, local energy initiatives, which would bypass the grid and allow much faster rollout of new energy supplies have been sidelined

Milliband’s biggest round of applause came when he announced £1b a year for local renewable power owned by local people. A great initiative, but it costs £30bn to build a nuclear power station currently planned. Why so little for local energy? And over what period is it being budgeted?
A speaker from the floor added that an incoming Labor government would spend £6bn per year on a “Warm homes plan £6bn a year “for the next 10 years, to cut bills, and cut emissions.”

Milliband had already stated where the bulk of Labour’s energy investment will be focused – floating off-shore wind-farms. And that means large centralised, slow-moving projects, dependent on the same utility companies that caused the problems of high prices and high emissions in the first place.

Labour insiders claim internal party polling suggests Starmer’s plan to launch GB Energy is extremely popular, but this seems unlikely since nobody knows exactly what the planned new company will do – until today.

After his speech, Milliband welcomed onto stage the boss of UK Utility company SSE. “delivering a clean energy system in 6 years is a massive task…we musn’t do anything to slow down the initiatives which are already under way.
Milliband repeatedly mentioned Carbon capture and storage as a key part of the solution but as we show in a recent post, carbon capture is an unproven solution that may prove too expensive.

A Labour source said it “taps into a patriotic argument that we should take back control of our energy system”, noting that Starmer had turned the party around to be proud of its heritage.

The act would also set out a framework for the party’s national wealth fund, a new body that would invest in partnership with the private sector.

A Labour source told The Telegraph: “We will also set clear objectives, hardwiring national priorities like economic growth and net zero into the planning system, as is done in Germany.”

The aim of the new Labour policy passed by conference at the same time, is to make the UK a “World Energy superpower.” Here is Composite motion 7 on Energy in full:

Composite 7 – Energy

Conference notes:

After 13 years of Conservative government in Westminster and the SNP in Holyrood, the United Kingdom has suffered the worst inflation among developed economies due to its exposure to fossil fuel prices.
The reliance on oil and gas imports meant that fuel bills rocketed last winter, resulting in the cost-of-living crisis.
The severity of the climate emergency with global temperature records regularly broken and extreme weather events devastating communities around the world.
The urgent need to reduce demand for fossil fuels in order to limit the scale and impact of climate change;
Under the last Labour government, energy bills were 30% cheaper, the UK had deployed the equivalent of three nuclear power stations in cheap onshore wind capacity, over one million homes were being insulated every year and the UK had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a quarter.
The Conservative government is failing to act, exacerbating the situation.
The climate change committee warns that the UK is missing targets on every front.
Meeting climate targets must go hand in hand with protecting jobs in the energy sector and the skills and expertise of the workforce are key to a successful transition.
Conference supports the Labour Party to:

Cut energy bills permanently by insulating millions of homes and moving to cheaper renewable energy generation.
Make Britain a clean energy super power, with net-zero electricity by 2030, working in partnership with the private sector, improving regulation and reforming planning.
Create over a million good quality jobs, protecting and rebuilding our industrial heartlands and coastal communities.
Make the UK energy secure, by using our abundant natural resources to free ourselves from the manipulations of Vladimir Putin and petrostate tyrants.
Lead the world by accelerating towards net zero and protecting our planet for future generations.
Create Great British Energy, a publicly-owned energy company, and a National Wealth Fund, to ensure that everyone benefits from the wealth created through the transition.
Fund further British research and development into ground-breaking environmental solutions, such as in green engineering and renewables.
Introduce a meaningful windfall tax on the excess profits accruing to energy companies, to help ease the cost of living for working families.

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