All of the major parties have plans to reduce energy bills for customers. Labour wants to introduce an emergency price cap that will keep the average dual-fuel household energy bill below £1,000 a year, whereas the Conservatives will commission an independent review into energy costs, acting on the review’s recommendations to keep energy bills as low as possible.
The Green Party plans to introduce progressive energy tariffs so that small consumers pay lower rates than large users, which wouldn’t be welcomed by energy-intensive customers but could benefit smaller businesses. If the Liberal Democrats come to power, they intend to drive energy costs down by supporting local community energy schemes. Whether any of these strategies would effectively reduce business energy expenditure is uncertain.
Predictably, renewable energy is a key focus for the Green Party, which has set out plans to move the coal phaseout date forward to 2023. It will expedite the transition from fossil fuels to a low carbon economy by phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and creating a new Green Investment and Innovation Centre, which will have borrowing powers to finance new renewable energy technology.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats also have ambitious renewable targets; one of Labour’s first missions will be to ensure that 60% of the UK’s energy comes from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030, and the Liberal Democrats are aiming to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030. Both parties will invest in renewable energy projects, from tidal lagoons (Labour) to building more electricity interconnectors (Liberal Democrats).
Renewables don’t feature as strongly in the Conservative manifesto – they have said that they won’t support more large-scale onshore wind power in England, but they are backing wind farms on remote Scottish islands. Instead they stress that they are more interested in the ends – reliable and affordable energy – than the way it is generated. Unlike the other three parties, they do not intend to ban fracking.
Nuclear energy remains a key element of the energy mix for most of the parties. Both Labour and the Conservatives have declared their intentions for the UK to remain a member of Euratom and continue support for nuclear.
The Liberal Democrats have pledged to back nuclear power, but they have said that new power stations won’t be funded by public subsidies and they will address issues around safety, cost and waste disposal. Unlike the other parties, the Green Party completely opposes the use of nuclear generation – they plan to cancel the contract for Hinkley Point C and end investment in new power stations completely.
We know that businesses are looking for stability in this time of political uncertainty, and one thing that all parties agree on is that the high environmental standards set by the EU will be maintained after Brexit. The Conservatives say that they will enact a Great Repeal Bill to ensure all EU environmental laws are converted to UK laws, and Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party also pledge to ensure that environmental protections are upheld regardless of the Brexit deal.
While most of the parties focused on improving energy efficiency in the home, businesses that are looking to become more energy efficient will be pleased to hear that the Conservatives plan to establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme to help organisations to implement efficiency measures, although this is only for large businesses.
Community energy schemes
Locally-owned community energy schemes form an important part of Labour’s, the Green Party’s and the Liberal Democrats’ energy strategies. Labour intends to create publicly-owned energy companies in every region and introduce new legislation to allow them to purchase the regional grid infrastructure; this will enable them to gradually bring the UK’s energy system back into public ownership. The Liberal Democrats hope that government support for local energy schemes and new entrants to the market will increase competition in the market.
The Green Party has similar aims, as it intends to create locally-owned energy companies to rival the Big Six. It wants to engage local communities in the energy market further by providing them with Community Energy Toolkits to give them the tools they need to create energy and municipal heating projects. Again the Conservatives stand apart from the other parties, as there’s no mention of community projects in their manifesto.
Are you prepared?
The energy industry is faced with unprecedented change, yet it remains one of the most resilient in the UK, however even when the election result is known next month we still face the uncertainty that Brexit will bring. Our departure from the EU means that the market is likely to remain volatile for the foreseeable future, so it’s wise to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be and that all elements – commodity and non-commodity charges – within your energy strategy are optimised.
If you could use some expert advice on how to create a strategy that works for your business, call us on 08451 46 36 26 or email email@example.com.
For ease, we’ve put together a ‘manifesto table’ summarising each political party’s stance on the key energy issues listed above: