We’re taking a look at the energy industry news surrounding the release of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos this week…..
Lib Dems back high business energy efficiency standards
The Liberal Democrat Party launched its general election manifesto on Wednesday 17 May, backing support for renewable energy and high energy efficiency standards for non-domestic buildings.
The manifesto pledged to restore the zero-carbon standard for new homes which was set by Liberal Democrats in government and since cancelled by the Conservatives, with the party planning to increase the standard steadily and extend it to non-domestic buildings by 2022.
Other pledges included to reduce energy bills permanently by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local-authority renewable schemes. The manifesto said; “We will make saving energy a top infrastructure priority, slashing energy bills and carbon emissions, creating thousands of jobs.”
Networks defend performance
The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has argued that the current market is performing well, when responding to the Labour Party manifesto.
Labour had criticised privatisation as failing to deliver an energy system that delivers for people, businesses or the environment. The party committed to regaining control of energy supply networks through the alteration of national and regional network operator licence conditions, as well as permitting publicly owned local companies to purchase regional grid infrastructure.
ENA Chief Executive David Smith, commenting on 16 May, highlighted how the current market has reduced costs for customers by 17% since privatisation while delivering significant levels of investment in that time. Smith added: “A further £45 billion is already forecasted to be invested in the next 6 years to deliver the kind of energy infrastructure that will help ensure our economy is fit for the future.”
Conservatives to consult on extending price cap to micro-businesses
The Conservative Party has confirmed in its manifesto that if it wins the general election it will consult on extending its proposed energy price cap to micro-businesses.
Released on 18 May, the party said that it would introduce a safeguard tariff cap for customers on the poorest value tariffs as part of “immediate attention” to be given to the retail energy market. It added that as part of broader reforms to the business energy market, it would consult on how to extend this cap to micro-businesses.
The manifesto spoke more broadly on how central government must play a role in supporting SMEs, while the Conservatives also said that it will ensure that smart meters are offered to every business and household by the end of 2020. Competitive and affordable energy costs will be delivered following a new independent review into the cost of energy.
Energy UK calls for energy costs review to be completed quickly
Following the publication of the Conservative manifesto on 18 May, trade association Energy UK has called for the party’s proposed independent review of energy costs to be done “in the fastest possibly way”, so as to maintain business confidence.
Energy UK Chief Executive Lawrence Slade said the energy industry is “absolutely committed” to working with the government and the energy regulator, Ofgem, to ensure the market works fairly and vulnerable customers are supported. Slade said the costs review should facilitate an honest debate around the costs of decarbonisation, tackling fuel poverty, how to target support for the vulnerable and how to deliver security of supply – and how these will be paid for.
Slade reiterated the industry’s belief that “competition and choice” is the best way to deliver a better deal for energy users. Slade added: “The energy sector now needs long-term policy stability in order to plan for the future, secure investment and to maintain a path towards a low-carbon economy.”