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Utility Week 22nd September 2017

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UTILITY WEEK | 22ND - 28TH SEPTEMBER 2017 | 7 Policy & Regulation This week Clark ups pressure on Ofgem over price cap BEIS secretary confirms to the Commons that Ofgem has the legal power to introduce a limit Greg Clark has increased the pressure on Ofgem by saying the energy regulator must use its powers to cap bills. Responding to a question in the House of Commons last week, the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) secretary confirmed Ofgem has the legal power to introduce such a limit. "For me, to oblige Ofgem to put a cap in place would seem excessive, it would require primary legislation; they have those powers, there is no need. "That's why, faced with this huge detriment – £1.4 billion on average – I believe that it is essential that Ofgem uses the powers that parliament has given it to eradicate this detriment." Later, responding to a question from shadow busi- ness secretary Rebecca Long Bailey, Clark said: "I believe that they (Ofgem) should act on the evidence that has been presented to them, using their powers. The ball is in their court and I expect them to do their job and stand up for consumers." Commenting on Clark's statement, John Penrose MP said he was "delighted" the government was "standing up so robustly for consumers". In response to a written question in parliament two weeks ago, junior business minister Margot James said that while Ofgem has extensive powers to establish a price cap on household energy prices, new legislation would be required in order to oblige Ofgem to put such a cap in place. DB ELECTRICITY Unabated coal phase-out reiterated Prime minister Theresa May has reiterated the UK's commitment to phase out unabated coal by 2025. In a joint press conference with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau on a trade visit to Canada on Monday, May said: "We have confirmed our joint commitment to supporting the global transition away from a reliance on coal as an energy source. Once again, the UK and Canada will lead the way, and I am pleased to announce that the UK will aim to phase out unabated coal by 2025." In response to the com- ments, Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: "Theresa May's reaffirmation of her government's commitment to phase out coal power is to be welcomed. "The first announcement of a UK coal phase-out was nearly two years ago so it's now time for the government to spell out how this will be delivered." ELECTRICITY Smart charging needed for EVs Energy UK has urged the government to offer support for developing smart charging arrangements – such as time- of-use tariffs – to manage the spikes in grid demand resulting from mass adoption of electric vehicles. In the first of a series of reports into how the energy system can adapt to electric vehicles, the trade body said the UK must accelerate the creation of the infrastructure that the mass take-up of electric vehicles will require. The report, published on 14 September by the Energy UK Electric Vehicle Group, said time-of-use tariffs could encour- age EV charging at specific times and avoid increases in peak demand. ENERGY Lib Dems back early climate target The Liberal Democrats have backed a motion to bring for- ward the UK's climate change targets by ten years from 2050 to 2040. The party's annual confer- ence, held in Bournemouth earl- ier this week, changed Lib Dem policy by setting a new target that greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 80 per cent by 2040 compared with 1990 lev- els. Under current government policy, the UK is due to achieve the 80 per cent target by 2050. The motion also condemned president Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the USA from the Paris climate change agreement. Clark: 'the ball is in Ofgem's court' Political Agenda David Blackman "Lib Dem policy shifts may pressure other UK parties" The Liberal Party used to be mocked for debating foreign pol- icy issues at its conferences when it only had a handful of MPs. Even aer the slight recovery in its Commons representation at the general election, its suc- cessors in the Liberal Democrats are in the same boat now. Donald Trump won't be quaking following the party's condemnation of his decision to quit the Paris climate change agreement at its annual confer- ence in Bournemouth this week. to maintain its internal truce on the issue. Jeremy Corbyn has a long track record of opposition to both civil and nuclear power. But the big trade unions, which normally see eye to eye with the Labour leader, are at odds with him on this and other environmental issues, such as the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport. Some of Corbyn's devotees may start to warm to a Lib Dem party that takes a less ambiguous stance on environmental issues. But the Lib Dem policy shis may put pressure on other UK parties. Party leader Vince Cable seized on last week's plunge in offshore wind prices to call for a "radical reapppraisal" of the UK's energy generation mix. The party's motion on climate change, passed this week, contains no reference to nuclear power in the exhaustive list of low-carbon energy sources it backs. This could point to a possible breakdown in the pro- atomic power consensus that has prevailed in British politics since the turn of this decade. A Lib Dem abandonment of nuclear power could make it that little bit harder for Labour

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