Energy bills relief package: the industry responds

Martin McTague, National Chair, Federation of Small Businesses:
“It’s a huge relief for millions of small businesses to hear confirmation they will be part of the government’s plans to help on energy. Many have been pushed to the brink by crippling energy bills, and so it is welcome that help is on the way.
“The toxic combination of uncapped energy hikes, high taxes, inflation and negative growth have become an existential threat for many.
“…Constricting the scale of energy bills for small businesses is unprecedented; we now have a high-level commitment in principle to help businesses get through the winter intact. Done right, this will be a lifeline – protecting jobs, communities and future economic recovery.
“However, the announcement is very high-level and sparse on detail so we will be working with the new government to clarify what happens next. Small businesses’ instant reaction is that this is not enough information, yet, for them to plan.”

Dan McGrail, chief executive, RenewableUK:
“Everyone will benefit from the new Prime Minister’s clear commitment to speed up the roll-out of renewables. Liz Truss has sent a clear signal that delivering cheap clean power for billpayers as fast as possible is at the heart of government’s energy strategy and the renewable energy sector is ready to meet that challenge.
“… A new scheme would see older renewable energy projects moving onto new fixed-price contracts, and this would be open to include as many generators as possible.
“The review announced by the Prime Minister on how to reach Net Zero in a way which maximises growth creates a golden opportunity to ensure that we build up our renewable energy supply chains throughout the UK, boosting jobs and investment in our new green economy”.
“Liz Truss is right to highlight our enormous potential not only to boost the UK’s energy security, but also to become a net exporter of energy by 2040. Harnessing our massive resources of renewables and green hydrogen potential will be key to achieving this. Although the Prime Minister’s announcements set out various measures, we’re confident that accelerating renewables will prove to be the only scalable solution which delivers meaningful and sustainable savings for billpayers and helps UK be a net energy exporter”.

Jo-Jo Hubbard, Electron:
“Our new prime minister has shown willingness to implement short-term solutions to our energy problems. Next, we need to know whether she has the mettle to make the systemic long-term changes to our energy system and ‘tackle the root causes’ as she has promised. There has been talk of energy market reform and extending the contracts for difference scheme. Good, but we must go much further and look at the fundamental way our energy market is structured in the UK.
The current top-down, single UK market blunt approach is not fit for purpose. We need agile, buoyant local energy markets that allow generators and consumers of energy to get the most out of their assets and get the best deal. Without that level of structural reform, we are simply propping up a tottering status quo.”

Jess Ralston, Senior Analyst, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit:
“All the experts and even the industry agree more UK gas won’t bring down British bills. To bring down bills we need to use less gas by investing in insulating homes, a measure which could be cost neutral to the Treasury given it will spend billions on the price cap freeze.
“There is a real danger of the government serving up a red herring with local communities likely to oppose fracking rigs while focus is diverted from efficiency and renewables which can be quick to introduce and are popular, rather than unpopular, with the public.”

Ian Gadsby, managing director, Ylem Energy:
“We welcome the fact the prime minister has recognised the energy challenge businesses face, however the six-month guarantee does little to address the likely long-term increase in energy prices.
“The government is effectively sending a dangerous message to businesses, telling them they have six month’s protection. However, businesses will still be paying high prices on the cap – much more than historic levels. Despite the cap we estimate the cost of business energy to reach, at best, between 30p-40p/kWh under the proposed scheme, a price rise many will struggle to cope with.
“It’s encouraging that the government has acknowledged the vital role of businesses generating their own energy and the need to reduce consumption. However, a six-month window is not enough time for large energy users to implement a direct energy generation solution. I fear that unless support is extended to two years in-line with the consumer support package, UK businesses will face another energy price cliff edge at the end of February.”

Simon Tucker, Global Head of Energy, Utilities & Resources, Infosys Consulting:
“The energy bill freeze will provide relative stability for working families and will help to curb inflation. But it’s a sticking plaster, especially for those who are on the lowest incomes. Households will still be paying around £2,100 in energy bills, and there will need to be targeted support particularly for those on pre-payment meters.
“The biggest beneficiaries will be small to medium sized businesses, like pubs, restaurants, and dry cleaners, whose operating costs will be shielded against the excesses of energy price rises.
“We’ll see pandemic-levels of spending to ease the energy crisis, but rationing remains a very real threat for at least another two years. The UK government’s energy strategy must focus on doing everything possible to secure new, reliable and low carbon energy sources, and to reduce consumption. Big investment in clean energy supplies like wind, solar, hydro and nuclear is an absolute imperative, but there also needs to be a greater drive to encourage consumers and business to use less. Reducing energy demand by 10-15% nationwide would make a huge difference when it comes to shoring up supply.”

Greg Jackson, CEO and founder, Octopus Energy:
“It’s great to see this major support for households and businesses. Companies and government are now working through the details and customers should sit tight and wait to hear from their energy supplier. Nothing will change until 1 October and we’ll be in touch with everyone before then.”

Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary, Prospect trade union:
“The public will not forgive any further dither and delay by ministers on taking the important investment decisions needed to secure our long-term energy security.
“Speaking outside Number 10, the Prime Minister promised to get ‘spades in the ground’. She must make clear that the future of the Sizewell C project will not be delayed by a single day as a result of the reviews into energy regulation and net zero. The project is ready to go as soon as the government grants its investment decision.
“Building the Sizewell C nuclear power station will deliver secure, clean electricity and good jobs for decades to come as part of a just transition to net zero.”

Mike Tholen, Acting CEO, Offshore Energies UK:
“Managing consumers bills during this period is essential both for households and businesses. Government has acted ambitiously in this respect which is something the whole energy industry has been calling for. We look forward to seeing the newly announced energy task force take shape and contributing to its work as it looks to maintain UK competitiveness through these challenging times.

“We continue to pay many billions in tax. … Calls to further change the tax rules rocks the investor confidence we need to produce our own oil and gas and power the energy transition. Windfall taxes will deter companies from the UK and handicap the investment needed to deliver energy security across the board.

“New oil and gas licences and investment here in the UK mean that we and our Europe neighbours are less likely to have to scramble for international supplies or return to using other fossil fuels, with all the implications that would have for cost, emissions, jobs and national security.”

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