Author Ben Leonard
The UK government has promised an independent review into the price of energy, with a particular focus on how to cut consumer costs. The review will hopefully examine how to keep household bills down in a time of stagnant wage growth, while also meeting pre-existing climate change targets.
Announcement of the review
The review was announced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and is an extension of a promise the government made in a previous green paper back in January.
Greg Clark, the business secretary, announced the review and added that
“the review will consider how we can take advantage of changes to our power system and new technologies to ensure clean, secure and affordable supplies over the coming decades,”
Calm consumer fears
The government has launched this review as they hope to calm consumer fears around the price of energy, security and reliability. It will be welcomed by those hit by British Gas’ latest price hike, which was announced just days ago. It will increase costs by 12.5% for around 3m UK consumers despite falling wholesale energy prices, in a widely criticised move.
The independent energy panel will be lead by one of the UK’s leading energy experts, Professor Dieter Helm. He will be tasked by the government with undertaking a review of the entire energy sector, with a specific focus on the price of energy and how to achieve a cost-effective energy supply for the UK.
Professor Helm currently teaches at Oxford University, as a professor of economic policy. He will be examining every element of the UK’s energy supply chain, including generation of energy, right up until it is supplied to individual consumers.
Professor Helm went on record as saying he would
“sort out the facts from the myths about the cost of energy”.
The total review is expected to be published in October and will analyse many different factors from across the sector that can affect bills, including energy and carbon pricing, efficiency measures, technology and regulation.
The Price of Energy: Reducing energy costs
The government were keen to point out that they are already looking at ways to reduce the price of energy for consumers. The government has already called on Ofgem, the energy regulator, to use its powers to reduce prices for consumers.
However, the regulator said that they were already considering extending a price cap on energy bills to more households on lower incomes.
Not far enough for some
Many consumer right’s groups came forward to welcome the review, but not everyone was in favour of it. Consumer group Which? said the review will be “cold comfort” to many households already overpaying on their energy bills.
Alex Neill from Which? said:
“Consumers need to see urgent action from the government and regulator to tackle the lack of competition in the market and to ensure they are getting a good deal.”
This news comes as a welcome relief to consumers, who were not long ago promised an energy freeze to 17m households by Theresa May, in her open letter to the public in The Sun, not long before the snap election.
That promise has been considerably watered down since, leaving many consumers frustrated.