U.K. energy customers prepared to pay to help cut carbon emissions


Alistair Buchanan,
Chief Executive,
London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — June 12, 2007
Energy customers in the U.K. are prepared to pay for measures that will reduce carbon emissions – but most feel that business and energy suppliers should bear the majority of the costs.

This was found by U.K. energy regulator Ofgem in research conducted as part of the Consumer First project aimed at getting a better understanding of consumer concerns about their energy consumption.

Customers felt that all parties – government, industry and customers themselves – should play their parts in addressing climate change, and while they considered that they already contributed quite a lot through their bills and that industry takes large profits and does not pay it own way, they also felt a sense of fairness and responsibility to pay their share.

The amount they were willing to pay varied by profile. Customers who are sceptical about the impact climate change is having and the programs in place to curb carbon emissions were willing to pay up to £15 ($30) per year, while people who are very supportive of carbon abatement programs and can afford to do so would pay £50 to £100 ($100 to 200) to support these programs.

Ofgem chief executive, Alistair Buchanan, says that household emissions account for nearly a third of Britain’s emissions, so it is vital that customers are willing to shoulder some of the burden of tackling carbon emissions. However the challenge is to convince customers that the bill for reducing emissions is a fair reflection of the real cost of making those reductions and to communicate effectively how government and business are tackling the problem.

“UK consumers will rightly demand an explanation when their bills go up that these costs have been incurred as efficiently as possible,” says Buchanan.

Based on the consultation it is recommended that government should show clear guidance and leadership in the face of climate change and diminishing energy resources. There also needs to be clarity on how the money is being collected from citizens, with for example clearly laid out bills detailing payments for renewable and energy efficiency commitments.

The research was conducted among sixty people of various ages in three locations around the country – London, Bristol and Glasgow. Most of the customers interviewed were aware of the simple steps they can take to reduce energy consumption, such as turning off lights and not leaving electrical equipment on standby, but they also felt that modern lifestyles make it difficult to be energy efficient.