Utility Week

UTILITY Week 7th October 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/735063

Contents of this Issue


Page 9 of 35

10 | 7TH - 13TH OCTOBER 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Party conferences Policy & Regulation May makes her mark The first conference of the new government saw ministers seeking to establish their own agenda, post- Brexit and post-Cameron. Mathew Beech was there. B ehind the bright lights, glossy photos, snappy soundbites and sharp suits that make up a Conservative Party con- ference, prime minister Theresa May and her new government wanted to make their mark. It is a government that came into being because of Brexit. But May is striving to give it an identity, and one that's not just about delivering the UK's EU exit. The tag line to this agenda is: "A country that works for everyone." It's not clear what this means for the water sector, with neither shadow market opening nor competition being deemed rel- evant. The only nod was the adoption of the EU laws post-Brexit. However, energy was a key talking point. Business and energy secretary Greg Clark made clear his delight at business, energy and industrial strategy being pulled together into a new department. "It makes sense," he said on more than one occasion. He talked about upgrading energy infra- structure, embracing the green revolution and building on regional strengths to help the UK hit its emissions reduction targets. This was something that carbon capture and storage (CCS) aficionados saw as a posi- tive, pointing out that it would be a regional strength in the North East and for heavy industry. The smart revolution, not only with smart meters but also smart grids and a fluid demand-supply relationship with demand- side management techniques and storage, was praised and promoted by the BEIS team, and others. Behind this the rumour of intervention on energy supply – which is out of sync with the Conservative free market ideal – was bub- bling away. Clark said the government "must act" to address the £2 billion consumer det- riment highlighted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). At the time of going to press May had not announced any moves from the government to intervene in the energy market, although there's talk she wants to extend the price caps the CMA set out. This could win favour with consumers, although the move is far from universally welcomed. British Gas and consumer organi- sation Which? were among those calling for the government "not to meddle" and allow the CMA remedies to take hold before taking action. Overall, the feeling in the corridors of Bir- mingham's ICC was that the government will talk tough, but stop at an intervention that represents a backstop if the CMA's remedies fail to achieve the desired result. Whatever the final announcement, it will undoubtedly be issued with the tag line "making energy work for everyone". Whether it works for the sector, or has unintended consequences for consumers, remains to be seen. "Knowing that the £2 billion of detriment exists, you have to act. Once you know that, you have a duty to act." Business and energy secretary Greg Clark Photo: Press Association Next Lobby SNP conference, SECC Glasgow, 13-15 October Utility Week will be at the SNP conference in Glasgow and will bring you news and analysis from the event online and in 21 October issue. "By converting acquis into British law, we will give businesses and workers maximum certainty as we leave the EU." Prime minister Theresa May

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 7th October 2016