Tim Field, Head of Press and Public Affairs at the Energy Networks Association responds to Ed Davey's article 'keeping the lights on and the air clean'.
The Secretary of State is absolutely right to highlight the future role for gas and we strongly support his pragmatic approach not to close the door of optionality for the UK energy mix.
As representatives of both the electricity and gas network operators, Energy Networks Association, shares Mr Davey’s fuel-neutral attitude. But what cannot be ignored is that going too far in one direction will lead to higher bills for consumers.
While the price of gas on the wholesale market may be predicted to rise, the prevalence of low-carbon energy, essentially providing greater electricity onto the grid, will itself require increased infrastructure, investment and costs to consumers.
When ENA’s Redpoint Consulting report into the future role of gas was launched by the then Energy Minister Charles Hendry back in November 2010 it helped win the argument for why gas had an enduring role and informed the government’s policy. That role is as clear as ever when so much focus is on how to deliver security of supply, sustainably and affordably for customers.
Low-carbon energy, just like all forms of energy, isn’t cheap. But as the pursuit of it is necessary, the networks are working hard to ensure that both distributed generation (small scale renewables connected at the low-voltage part of the grid) and low-carbon technologies, such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, are accounted for when planning for the future of the network. Although only accounting for between 20-25% of the average household bill, the networks infrastructure could have a significant impact on bills unless the right energy strategy is adopted.
That is why we are looking at how smarter networks can reduce the inevitable rise in energy bills. It is also why the smart meter roll-out, arguably the largest customer engagement process ever, must deliver both network benefits and consumer education. And it is also why the government must deliver clarity, simplicity and certainty to investors. There’s a world of investment opportunities to choose from – we need them to choose the UK.