Utility Week

UTILITY Week 9th October 2015

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UTILITY WEEK | 9TH - 15TH OCTOBER 2015 | 9 Utility Week Lobby produced in partnership with: Tories starting to feel secure Unlike Labour, the Conservative top team was unashamedly pitching not to conference but to the nation, says Mathew Beech. Lobby Election / Party conferences "Defra is a treas- ure trove of data, research and infor- mation, which for too long has been hidden away. " Environment secretary Liz Truss "We choose to take on these things not because they're easy, but because they're hard." Chancellor George Osborne "While people sup- port a transition to a low-carbon future, they don't support this at any cost. There is no magic money tree." Energy secretary Amber Rudd Key questions ● "National Grid is running a Bentley 365 days a year, and I think a Ford Focus would be fine." Former PPS to the energy minister, Laura Sandys ● "I vow I'm going to get George Osborne out of his hard hat and into wellingtons." Environmental Audit Committee member Rebecca Pow What needs to be done to boost customer trust in the energy market? Minister for constitutional reform John Penrose attacked suppliers as "immoral" for relying on inertia and said problems needed to be "prevented before they occur in the first place". Later the same day, energy secretary Amber Rudd unveiled plans to give the Ombuds- man Services "real teeth" to tackle patterns of bad behaviour. OVERHEARD AT THE CONFERENCE… KEY QUESTION Policy & Regulation Likes: Gas has a big future under the Conservatives, and not just because of the party's support for fracking. It is seen as a transition fuel but also as important for heat- ing. It may even be needed for baseload power if CCS proves to be non-viable. T he Conservatives were in a buoyant mood in Manchester this week for their first party conference off the back of a general election victory since 1992. Chancellor George Osborne pulled off a coup by getting Labour peer Lord Adonis to agree to join the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC). The NIC was originally proposed by Labour but Osborne wants to be seen to "shake Britain out of its inertia" by establishing the body to drive key infrastruc- ture projects and "get Britain building". Alongside this, an extra £5 billion will be given to major infrastructure schemes, including energy projects. This is all part of the Tory plan to take control of the centre ground, and attract disillusioned Labour voters – Osborne even admitted as much in his keynote speech. Part of this appeal is to be seen to be fighting for the consumer and the environ- ment, and energy secretary Amber Rudd clearly got that message. She reiterated the party's desire to see shale gas come on stream, expressed delight that subsidised onshore wind had been halted, and unveiled plans to give the energy ombudsman "real teeth". With central heating season now under- way, being seen to clamp down on the energy suppliers and being on the side of the consumer is an important move for Rudd. Water minister Rory Stewart is also look- ing out for the citizens of Britain – but in terms of protecting and looking aer the environment, poetically stating the country- side is "good for the soul". While no new water policies have been revealed, Stewart and environment secretary Liz Truss have made it clear they are putting in the groundwork now ahead of the 25-year environment plan, which will include aspects of water upstream reform and catch- ment management, and is due to come out towards the end of next year. The Conservative message is clear: you elected us to do a job for you, and we're get- ting on and doing it. Word cloud drawn from Amber Rudd's speech to conference

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