Future energy supplies will not come cheap
Most people will tell you that energy bills are too high. Equally, most people will argue that it is within the gift of politicians to reduce these bills. But our political masters haven't the courage to take on the power companies. At least, that's how the story goes.
As such, it is a convenient narrative to perpetuate, especially if you are a politician desperately looking to curry some favour among your electorate.
We suspect, however, that both of these assumptions are flawed. If they are, then the leader of the Labour Party could be put in an embarrassing position should he triumph at the 2015 election.
For Ed Miliband – with some fanfare – has promised to freeze bills for 20 months if he emerges victorious after the next polling day. Increasingly, the economists, even the left-wing variety, are arguing this: a price freeze will have little effect, simply serving to inflate prices before and after the Labour freeze. And possibly even worse than this, the prospect of government caprice threatens much-needed investment in the sector.
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Some of the threats put about suggesting the lights will all go out may be no more than threats – but there is an element of truth hidden within.
About 20 per cent of this country's generating capacity is to close over the coming decade and some £110billion is needed to plug the gap. is there not a danger that the position Mr Miliband has taken would only serve to increase investor's demands – and that will mean only one, gloomy outcome – higher bills, not lower ones.
Mr Miliband's stance – as popular as it may be with the public at large – must throw into some confusion his party's policy on green energy, which will remain a costly necessity as we strive to replace the fuel that is running out. For run out it will.
The fastest-rising part of our energy bills in recent years has been the environmental levies to pay for carbon-free power generation and energy efficiency schemes. If you believe climate change is happening, then a credible green energy strategy is essential – not only for a political party that hopes to win a majority at the next election but for all our sakes, not least the generations who will follow us. And credible green energy strategies cost money.
The only way to limit the impact of this inflation is to reduce the amount of power we use. It is here that attention must be focused, not on the hot air of politicians hustling for short-term advantage.