Utility Week

Utility Week 13th October 2017

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

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UTILITY WEEK | 13TH - 19TH OCTOBER 2017 | 7 Policy & Regulation Lobby Policy / Budget / Brexit Blue blood It was meant to reboot her government, but the Conservative party conference almost spelt the end of Mrs May, says David Blackman. P arty conferences oen feel like they are happening on a different planet, com- pounded these days by the tall secu- rity barriers that are deemed necessary in a world transformed by acts of terror. However, even inside the secure zone at the Conservative conference, it was hard to ignore the gales that hit Manchester on Mon- day (2 October). Those same winds helped to generated nearly one-third (32.6 per cent) of UK elec- tricity output on the day, contributing to the record low carbon intensity figure reported for a 24-hour period. And at the conference it felt like the winds of change were blowing just as virgorously hrough energy policy. The showstopper was prime minister The- resa May's promise of legislation to crack down on energy bills. Amid the coughs and splutters that plagued her showpiece appearance, she announced that the govern- ment would legislate to curb energy bills (see box, p8). The proposed energy price cap was a key element in May's bid to reboot a government agenda that has been characterised by dri and infighting since June's general election. The move addressed the underlying debate gripping the conference's fringe, where dele- gates are able to speak their mind a lot more freely than at the stage-managed main event. And the big question for activists was why the Conservatives had failed to perform well enough at June's snap general election. Delivering cheaper energy bills is seen by some Tories as one route out of their woes. Others focus on taking a more positive approach to tackling climate change. Following the 2015 election, the Conserva- tives slashed subsidies for onshore wind and solar, while making it harder to secure plan- ning permission for such projects. Matthew Knight, offshore wind direc- tor of business development for Siemens UK, told one fringe meeting that "Conserva- tives should have a great reputation for environmental stewardship, but unfortu- nately a small number of very noisy people have banged on about stuff that has been debunked long ago. The rest of us should ignore the climate change deniers and get behind the people who are building this green, decent economy". One of the main things worrying Con- servatives is the party's poor showing among "The Government I lead will keep taxes low and cap rip-off energy tariffs to help families who are working all the hours they can to pay the bills." Prime minister Theresa May "We won't accept that just because wind has come down so much, which is fantastic, that that suddenly rules out nuclear." Minister for industry and energy Richard Harrington PHOTOS: PA IMAGES Theresa May is congratulated by her husband Philip after her keynote speech

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