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August 17 2017
The government has announced that it will shortly launch a full-scale review into the UK’s energy sector, asking an expert to examine the issues of cost and supply, as well as those of security and reliability.
The review, which will be carried out by Professor Dieter Helm – Oxford University’s professor of economic policy – is the result of a green paper published in January which promised to address the country’s future industrial strategy.
Events of recent months, however, have created a more urgent need for the review, following the decision by British Gas to raise electricity prices by 12.5%, which would seem to endanger Prime Minister Theresa May’s pre-election pledge to slash household energy bills for some 17m homes.
According to this Financial Times article, energy costs for UK consumers are relatively low compared with the rest of Europe. However, energy suppliers themselves face some of the highest international wholesale costs for their products, which the businesses claim inevitably puts pressure on them to push up bills.
Professor Helm declared himself “delighted” to be tasked with leading the review, adding that “The cost of energy always matters to households and companies, and especially now in these exceptional times, with huge investment requirements to meet the decarbonisation and security challenges ahead.”
However, some critics have claimed that announcing the review is simply a way of the government being able to delay making any concrete decisions on the matters which it will cover. One of these critics is Will Hodson, co-founder of the Big Deal collective which campaigns for lower energy bills, who said that “the government is simply kicking the can down the road. If this review leads to any reduction in costs, they will come into effect many years from now”.
Whatever the outcome of the review, the increasing diversification and expansion of the UK’s energy industry means that one thing is for sure – there will be plenty of opportunity, and great competition for, an increasing number of energy sector jobs in the years and decades to come.
Image Credit: Chris Hunkeler