Utility Week

UTILITY Week 6th October 2017

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UTILITY WEEK | 6TH - 12TH OCTOBER 2017 | 7 Policy & Regulation This week Ministers speak up for onshore wind Communities that want onshore wind should be allowed it, Conservative party conference hears Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party confer- ence this week, energy minister Richard Harrington said he had "no point of principle against" onshore windfarms, which have been curbed across much of the UK since the Tories won the 2015 general election. "Provided that it goes through a reasonable local planning system, I see no reason why [onshore wind] should not be on the same level playing field as everything else." However, he added, the government would not impose windfarms on a "blanket basis" on local areas. At a separate fringe meeting, climate change minister Claire Perry also backed onshore wind. "Onshore and solar both have a really important role to play. The chal- lenge is making sure we can deliver to the right cost with the appropriate local support," she said. Harrington also warned of his concerns about the risks of "falling into the trap" of treating offshore wind as a "panacea" for the UK's energy needs aer the recent plunge in construction costs for such projects. "We can't rely on any one form of energy," he said. Peter Aldous, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamen- tary Group for Renewable and Sustainability Energy, endorsed Harrington's support for onshore wind, which he said had become "politically toxic" under the last Labour government when they had been "imposed" on areas against the wishes of the people who lived there. But "if communities want them they should be allowed them", he said. DB GAS Whitehead warns on gas conversion Converting all domestic heating from gas to electricity would require a massive increase in generation capacity, shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead has warned. Speaking at a Labour party fringe meeting last week during their conference, sponsored by gas company ESB, White- head said that the variation in demand for heating compared with that currently existing for electricity was a "fundamental problem". He said: "The variance is six times as big during the day. Since most of our homes are heated by gas we simply wouldn't be able to produce enough capacity." He said that the solution was to "progressively decarbonise the gas grid by physically inject- ing other forms of green gas, such as biomethane". ELECTRICITY Storage to be classed as generation Ofgem has confirmed plans to clarify the licensing regime for electricity storage by classifying it solely as a form of generation. The changes are being introduced to stop storage from being "double counted" when charging network levies. Under the current regime, storage is considered as consumption when importing electricity and generation when exporting. The regulator initially outlined its intention to classify storage as generation in its response to a consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It has now elaborated on its position while launching a con- sultation on the proposals. ENERGY Clean growth will report 'before Helm' The publication of the long- awaited clean growth strategy will precede Dieter Helm's cost of energy review, climate change minister Claire Perry has revealed. At a fringe meeting at the Conservative party confer- ence this week, Perry outlined the timetable of the govern- ment's upcoming energy policy announcements. "The sequencing will prob- ably go clean growth strategy, Helm review, industrial strat- egy," she said. Perry defended the delayed appearance of the strategy, which her predecessor Nick Hurd said was near publication in the spring, on the grounds that she did not want it to be "just a discussion about carbon budgets." Onshore wind: banned in much of the UK Political Agenda David Blackman "The Tories are having a bit of an existential crisis" The Conservatives are having a bit of an existential crisis at their annual conference in Manches- ter this week. The chin stroking, which may seem an odd look for a party that has just begun a fresh term in government follow- ing June's general election, has been prompted by their close shave at that poll. The result is that the Con- servatives have been forced to dust down arguments about the virtues of free market capitalism, which most believed had been BEIS secretary of state Greg Clark voiced his frustration with perceived foot-dragging on a market-wide cap by Ofgem's Der- mot Nolan, who he drily noted provides regular reminders that he is an independent regulator. However, the energy regula- tor's competition-first mindset was until very recently de rigueur in Tory circles. Expect to see no let-up in the rhetoric on prices, though, when the Tories return from their soul searching to parliament next week. won long ago, not least in the Labour party under one of Cor- byn's predecessors, Tony Blair. The outcome of this debate matters deeply for utilities, which saw many of the signature privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s that Corbyn has vowed to reverse. Free market thinking remains a strong strand within the Tory party, represented noisily by the right of centre think-tanks that provided the intellectual fuel for the Thatcherite privatisation drive. However, this conference has not let up on the harsher tone towards utilities which has prevailed since Theresa May entered No 10 last year.

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