UK government reshuffle maintains commitment to smart meters

Amber Rudd supports smart meters UK
Conservative MP Amber Rudd will support the government manifesto to deliver smart meters by 2020, reports The Telegraph

In the UK, Conservative Member of Parliament Amber Rudd has begun her new role as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Having campaigned strongly on energy reform and the importance of addressing climate change during the recent UK elections, Ms Rudd, who replaced Liberal Democrat Ed Davey, is likely to drop the price cap on energy and continue to support the rollout of smart meters in all homes across the UK, reports newspaper The Telegraph.

The report maintains that energy firms won’t now be forced to freeze their bills in 2017, and the election result also ruled out Labour plans to force firms to pass on wholesale price cuts to consumers.

The Telegraph also added that critics believe “the threat of a Labour price cap had artificially pushed up prices because energy firms had been reluctant to cut tariffs that they might not have been able to increase in the future.”

While wholesale gas prices have dropped by 31% over the past three years, domestic gas prices have risen by 6%. Additionally, wholesale electricity costs have dropped by 13% since 2013, but tariffs are 5.3% higher.

Commenting on the price drops, Mark Todd, co-founder of EnergyHelpline, a switching service, said: “Significant price cuts are possible, perhaps 5%, which equates to £65 a year.”

The newspaper report also speculated that the Government will intervene in the market to force the Big Six suppliers to offer cheaper tariffs if they suspect that the firms are profiting unduly from cheaper wholesale gas and electricity.

Smart meters in every home

Despite criticism across a number of groups and associations, the government is still committed to the rollout of smart meters in every home by 2020.  This, despite an increased spend of GBP4 billion.

Claire Maugham, from Smart Energy GB, admitted there were “significant challenges” to the rollout but said it would be delivered on time and on budget.

“The Tory manifesto reaffirms the party’s commitment to delivering smart meters by 2020, so they’re working to that deadline and there’s been no indication it will run over time,” she told The Telegraph. “This is possibly the biggest infrastructure project this government will be responsible for.”

Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2015

In other policy news, the International Energy Agency will be launching the 2015 Medium-Term Gas Market Report on 4 June 2015 in Paris.

Presented by Maria van der Hoevan, Executive Director, and Laszlo Varro,  Head of Gas, Coal and Power Markets, the report will provide analysis of global demand, supply and trade development for gas through 2020.

Says the Agency: The context for gas markets is changing rapidly, however. Falling oil prices have resulted in much lower gas prices in many parts of the world.

As a result, gas demand is enjoying the tailwind of substantial price drops while the upstream sector is suffering amid large capital expenditure cuts.

The interaction of these opposing effects on gas markets is examined in the IEA Medium-Term Gas Market Report 2015. The impact on global gas markets of Russia’s strategic shift in its gas export policy and the rising tide of liquefied natural gas supplies are given careful consideration.

Of particular interest in the upcoming report is an analysis of the progress that has been made in upgrading and strengthening the European gas infrastructure since 2010, and the challenge of bottlenecks in the region.

Additionally, this report examines reforms in the Mexican gas and electricity sector and how they will impact on the North American gas market.