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The UK government should renationalise its electricity industry if major power companies continue to resist its changes to the British energy market.

That’s the view of Alistair Smith, chairman of the power division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, who was speaking in the wake of the publication of the government’s draft Energy Bill yesterday.

The Bill aims to kick-start investment in a host of low carbon generation but many companies in the power sector have criticised it because they feel it lacks clarity and, in turn, undermines investor confidence.

However, Smith has given the Bill his full backing, saying it is “essential if the UK is to maintain a secure energy supply, while at the same time cutting carbon emissions at an affordable cost to the consumer”.

He said: “Although this Bill effectively kills off the idea of a truly open UK electricity market, this legislation is necessary in order to encourage companies to build a balanced electricity generating mix, with the correct proportion of baseload nuclear power along with the right balance of intermittent forms of renewable energy such as offshore wind power backed-up by reliable gas-fired generation.”

And he added: “If these reforms are rejected by the power industry because they don’t like certain elements, it may be time for the government to consider re-taking control of this essential element of our national infrastructure. The UK needs certainty now if we are to avoid jeopardising our security of supply in the relatively near future.”

Power Engineering, 23 May 2012