What on earth was in David Cameron’s head when, amid raucous Commons exchanges on our soaring energy bills, he shouted at Ed Miliband, “we need to roll back the green charges” that the Labour leader “put in place when he was energy secretary”? Mr Cameron must have known that he and his party cheered every single one of the green charges introduced by Mr Miliband when he was energy and climate change secretary. Along with George Osborne, William Hague and most of his present Cabinet, Cameron happily voted for Mr Miliband’s Climate Change Act, committing us all to paying up to £18billion every year until 2050; in fact, the Tories wanted to go even further.
In a column I wrote here just before the 2010 election, headed “How will David Cameron keep the lights on?”, I reported that he was considering such a massive expansion of “feed-in tariff” subsidies for “renewables” that it had been estimated that this alone would, by 2020, have cost us £60 billion — a proposal so batty that it was quietly dropped. But not even Labour envisaged the “carbon tax” announced by Mr Osborne when the Tories returned to power, designed eventually to double the cost of the electricity from coal and gas that still supplies 70 per cent of our needs.
Two weeks ago, in a column headed “It’s showdown time for our insane green energy policies”, I observed that this is the moment when the roof is finally starting to fall in on a collective flight from reality that I have been reporting here for years. But what few people yet realise is how far this catastrophic mess we are in was not only predictable, but has also been quite deliberately brought about, through the Government’s own policies.
Their central aim, though never openly explained, has been twofold. One leg has been to build, by 2020, some 30,000 wind turbines, so ludicrously expensive that we must pay double or treble the market rate for the power they so inefficiently produce.
The other leg is that, to make this seem competitive, we should also eventually be made to pay twice the going rate for all other forms of electricity: hence the “carbon tax” on coal and gas, and the colossal price we are to pay for power from Hinkley Point and other new nuclear power stations (four times the cost of nuclear, estimated by a Royal Academy of Engineering study only nine years ago).
That is why our energy companies pathetically try to explain that a third of the increased costs driving their latest price rises are made inevitable by the various levies we must pay directly for those “green” policies, such as the hidden subsidies being showered on the owners of our ever-growing number of wind farms and acres of solar panels.
Another third represents what we must pay for the thousands of miles of cabling needed to connect those “renewables” to the grid (which Ofgem estimated might, by 2020, cost us another £40 billion) — along with other measures needed to counteract the unbalancing of the grid by the intermittency of “renewables”, such as hiring those thousands of diesel generators to provide back-up, which makes a further mockery of the “de-carbonisation” policy mandated by the Climate Change Act that Mr Cameron was so keen on.
The truth is that we are being brought face to face with the utter absurdity of everything this Government’s bizarre ragbag of policies has been trying to achieve. For Mr Cameron to blame all this on Mr Miliband only shows that the fuses in his brain have at last begun to blow. By mindlessly going along with all this nonsense, it is our entire political class that has created this shambles. It is the rest of us, alas, who must now live with the consequences.