Guardian: Energy bills could be cut by £50 a year in next week’s autumn statement by watering down “green levies” and moving them on to general taxation, under plans being discussed by ministers.” “The changes will mean that energy companies’ spending on homes in fuel poverty in England will fall by 62% over this parliament, from £626m in 2010/11 to £237m in 2014/15. That would leave spending to help people insulate their homes at the lowest level in over a decade.
David Cameron has promised to “get rid of the green crap” on bills, according to newspaper reports, but the Guardian understands that ministers’ decisions will see green schemes diluted and funded by other means rather than axed entirely.
However, uncertainty over one scheme funded by the levies has already led to the scrapping of a £500,000 project to insulate 100 homes.
The only scheme that requires the big six energy firms to reduce customers’ energy bills, the £1.4bn-a-year energy companies obligation (ECO), will be watered-down by delaying the deadline for the companies’ targets.”
Guardian: “Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, said: “This shows how outrageously EDF Energy were behaving when they sought to blackmail the British government into abandoning the energy company obligation in return for not putting prices up even higher [when EDF announced its price rise earlier this month]. They would have known perfectly well they were deliberately inciting our government to break European law. This is disgraceful behaviour from a company predominantly owned by another European government.”
Warren said: “Home energy use has dropped by a quarter since 2005, largely owing to the installation of energy-saving measures. This has cut the energy companies’ turnover badly, and that is why they are trying to destroy our nationwide energy-saving programme.”
He called it “perverse logic” to help cut fuel bills by watering down the programme that helps people cut their fuel bill. He pointed out that there were already 7,000 fewer people employed in delivering energy efficiency than there were this time last year, and that at least 10,000 fewer people are likely to be employed this time next year than would have been if ECO went ahead unscathed.
But the bill for ECO could be drastically reduced if the complex processes for implementing improvements under the scheme were streamlined, according to EUM Consultants, an energy efficiency survey specialist. The consultancy said up to £610m could be saved by shortening the approval process, replacing the current assumptions on carbon savings, redesigning the criteria so the most vulnerable receive improvements first, and giving suppliers access to local authority data on which homes are most in need.
Alex Tsimboykas, director of EUM, said: “A few simple fixes could make a significant cost saving. Our message to government could not be clearer: reform ECO, do not remove it.”