Energy secretary warns of damaging effects of Ed Miliband’s efforts to reform the energy market.
Ed Davey warns that Labour’s energy policies are going to destroy the much needed certainty and stability of the industry.
Speaking at a Guardian fringe meeting, Mr Davey criticized opposition plans to eliminate the energy regulator Ofgem and introduce an energy price freeze for consumers.
His comments came just days after Lady Verma, the Conservative parliamentary under-secretary for energy and climate change, criticised Labour’s energy policies as “silly headlines” at her own party’s conference.
Davey said there is already uncertainty in the energy sector including political instability ahead of a general election and the possibility of a referendum on Britain’s European membership and also questions over long-term wholesale prices of gas and oil. The two pillars of Labour’s energy agenda will only add to it.
He said: “We need and crave – and quite rightly crave – stability and certainty, but there are all these factors that work against it. When some politicians play fast and loose with this, it undermines the public consensus we are trying to achieve.”
“Labour created Ofgem, Ed Miliband reformed Ofgem and now they want to abolish Ofgem – you couldn’t make it up. If you are an investor and you see the regulator being torn up, you will not invest,” he said.
He also claimed that Labour should be proud of Ofgem and that Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze energy price would create major problems for investors.
Davey also said in the debate he was very enthusiastic about the potential for growing tidal energy and reiterated his support for nuclear, stating that in order to maintain a low carbon energy mix for the UK, nuclear energy is the only solution. He also insisted that despite reports that Scotland’s coal-fired power station at Longannet may close, he was confident in the UK’s future energy supply,
Frank Mitchell, chief executive of Scottish Power Energy Networks, warned that short-term energy problems could be faced in the UK if adequate back-up supply were not in place when a programme of shutting down coal-fired power stations begins. Mitchell said the UK needed a “soft landing” when coal-fired stations were closed.
Huub de Rooijen, head of offshore wind at the Crown Estate, said other forms of energy such as offshore wind were often unfairly penalised because of the initially high start-up and construction costs; however in the long term traditional energy models were proving to be more expensive. He said lifetime costs of different energy sources should be made transparent to the public, and demanded a “level playing field” for all energy forms.
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