New U.K. energy minister plans feed-in tariff and action on prepayment tariffs


Ed Miliband,
U.K. Energy and
Climate Change
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 20, 2008 – In his first Commons statement since being appointed to the new Department of Energy and Climate Change, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband committed to introducing feed-in tariffs to support small scale renewable generation and to take action on unfair pricing, particularly for prepayment electricity, if the suppliers fail to do so.

Commenting that only if Britain plays its part will a global deal to cut carbon emissions be possible, Miliband announced that the target for greenhouse gas emission reduction would be increased up to an 80 percent cut on 1990 levels by 2050 from the currently targetted 60 percent. While it is easy to set such a target the hard part is meeting it, however, and recommendations will be made by the Committee on Climate Change in December. But related to this is the urgency in getting on with the delivery of renewable energy and Miliband suggested the renewables obligation for large-scale projects should be complemented by feed-in tariffs for small-scale electricity generation.

“I believe (these) have the potential to play an important role, as they do in other countries,” he said.

Turning to the structure of the energy market, Miliband said he wanted to “signal a direction of travel” on affordability. Citing recent findings by Ofgem that 4 million customers in areas not connected to the gas main are paying what are believed to be unjustified higher charges for electricity, and that many homes with prepayment meters are being overcharged, Miliband said that unfair pricing which hits the most vulnerable hardest is completely unacceptable.

“I made that clear to the representatives of the big six energy companies when I met them yesterday.”

Miliband said he would be meeting with the suppliers again in a month to hear what they have done, and that if they don’t act in a satisfactory way, then a consultation will be launched on legislation to prevent unfair pricing differentials.

“For us, markets can provide enormous benefits in dynamism and efficiency, but they will only work properly if they are regulated effectively in the public interest, including with a strong independent regulator. There is more to do to help consumers, and we will not hesitate to act.”