Utility Week

Utility Week 18th April

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UtilitY WEEK | 18th - 24th April 2014 | 9 Interview I 'm not an energy expert," says Tom Greatrex with a smile. But the shadow energy minister is too modest: he has been at the heart of Labour's price freeze pol- icy, which has set the agenda in energy like few political interventions of recent times. He is energetic, as shown by the 88 questions on energy and climate change policy he has asked in the Commons in the current parliamen- tary year – and, given the intricate nature of some of those questions, clearly comfortable with the detail. Greatrex is speaking to Utility Week at the Sustainabil- ity Live exhibition in Birmingham at the beginning of this month, fresh from a panel debate on what it will take to keep the lights on. It's the week aer Ofgem announced its likely plans to refer energy suppliers to the Competi- tion and Markets Authority (CMA) and, for Greatrex, it is just another week trading punches in the long and bloody fight leading up to next May's general election. As he reflects on the past few months, when Labour has stolen the show in energy, he's keen to emphasise the more considered reforms behind the "price freeze" headline, and Labour's longer-term ambitions for the energy market. But first, what about that moment in September, when Ed Miliband took to the stage? "This isn't just from our conference. We've actually been talking about issues around open trading and a pool for a couple of years and have been talking about issues around Ofgem for a year and a half," he says. It is these planned reforms, which would take place behind the headline price freeze, that Greatrex is keen to highlight, especially on the back of the expected CMA referral. "There is an appetite and an understanding for the need for significant reform to bring transparency to that part of the market, which wasn't necessarily what people were saying six months ago," he states. Getting to the point where the price freeze has been "vindicated" by SSE, which earl ier this month announced a voluntary price freeze, has not been easy for Greatrex, or his party. "

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