Insulation, grid investment, community energy – measures needed to ‘bring down bills permanently’ – Ben Lake MP

Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP, has today (Wednesday 16 November) urged the UK Government that “long-term solutions” are needed to “permanently bring down the cost of energy bills”.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Grand Shapps, and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the Plaid Cymru MP said that “cutting long-term investment now will only pass even greater burdens onto future generations”.

Mr Lake called for measures including investment in home retrofitting, vouchers for businesses to invest in energy efficiency measures, and investment in the electricity grid.

All capital spending is said to be under review before Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement tomorrow (Thursday) with a view to making billions in savings on infrastructure projects.

The New Economics Foundation have recently estimated that had all homes in England and Wales been upgraded to EPC C, UK Government spending on the Energy Price Guarantee would £3.5bn less over 6 months, and households would save £530 over the next year.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Plaid Cymru called for a tax reform commission to be established in order to find alternatives to budget cuts, including extending National Insurance contribution rates to income earned through investments, equalising National Insurance contributions for higher earners, and an extended and backdated windfall tax.

Ben Lake MP writes:

“I am contacting ahead of the Autumn Budget to urge you to ensure that the economic plan includes long-term solutions to address the energy crisis, and in so doing, permanently bring down the cost of energy bills. A failure to deliver long-term investment now will only pass even greater burdens onto future generations.

“Given the scale of the crisis we face, it is vital that the UK Government deliver solutions which bring down energy use. As you will be aware, the inefficiency of our housing stock means that households are wasting hundreds of pounds a year on energy that immediately escapes through draughty walls, windows and ceilings. This issue is particularly acute in Wales given that we have some of the oldest and least efficient housing in Western Europe.

“Businesses are also in need of support with energy efficiency measures so that they too can permanently reduce their energy bills. The Federation of Small Businesses have put forward proposals for “help to green” vouchers worth £5000 for small and medium-sized businesses to spend on qualifying energy saving-products and services. Direct help to facilitate energy efficiency improvements now will protect businesses from energy shocks in the future.

“One of the key levers which must be utilised in order to bring down energy costs for good is investment in renewable sources. A recent report by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee into the grid capacity in Wales, however, warned that Wales’ renewable energy potential is threatened by a lack of UK Government leadership in improving grid connectivity. It is clear that Wales cannot maximise our renewable energy potential without strategic investment in grid infrastructure.

“There is huge potential for more community-scale renewable energy generation infrastructure to be built across the UK, and for this growth to help build a more secure and resilient energy system that brings direct benefits to local communities. The Welsh Government has set a target for 1GW of renewable electricity capacity in Wales to be locally owned by 2030. However, the participation of communities in the energy market is restricted by excessive costs and an unwieldy regulatory process.

“In order to make new community energy businesses viable, will you bring forward amendments to the Energy Bill, currently awaiting Committee Stage in the House of Lords, to provide a framework to support the growth of community energy schemes, guarantee small energy generators a stable tariff for selling their energy and establish a local energy supply mechanism to enable community renewable generation schemes to sell directly to local people?”