Boris Johnson’s promise to reduce consumer electricity prices “in tatters”
London, 3 May – According to a new analysis, consumers could be hundreds of million pounds worse off due to wind companies’ delaying tactics in delivering electricity at fixed prices.
Ministers have promised that a new generation of “low-cost” renewable generators will get bills down, and there are several gigawatts of offshore windfarms, either under construction, or newly completed, in the North Sea. These have all agreed to sell power to the grid at low fixed prices under the government’s “Contracts for Difference” (CfD) scheme.
But since the start of the energy price crisis, newly completed windfarms are delaying taking up their CfDs, most probably because they can earn much higher prices in the open market. Moray East, a huge windfarm off the Scottish coast, recently reached full operational capacity, but then announced that it was delaying taking up its CfD until 2023. As a result, consumers will potentially have to pay this one windfarm an extra half a billion pounds in its first 12 months of operations.
In fact, since energy prices soared last autumn, no new renewables capacity has been added to the CfD scheme, and every renewables generator that was supposed to take up a contract in 2022 has now delayed until next year. There is nothing to stop them putting the date back further after that.
There is no suggestion that anyone is doing anything illegal. CfD contracts allow a great deal of flexibility on start dates, with delays of up to three years possible. The contracts are extraordinarily generous to developers, with all of the risk taken by consumers and none by the windfarms themselves.
“The Government has a chicken and egg problem”, says Net Zero Watch’s Andrew Montford.
“They say that low-bidding CfD windfarms will lower consumer prices, but no windfarm will take up its CfD with market prices so high. The Government’s energy strategy is in tatters”.
Craig Mackinlay MP, the chair of the parliamentary Net Zero Scrutiny Group, said:
“The false promise of cheap renewable energy is in tatters with ineptly agreed heads they win, tails we lose contracts littering UK energy strategy.
“If energy prices are low, CfDs mean consumers pay out to artificially increase energy prices; when energy prices are high these companies hold back to permanently fix high prices for themselves.
“It’s a shameful racket that households are paying for all in the name of the Net Zero con-trick.”
Steve Baker MP said:
“Pleading for fair play is an admission of massive regulatory failure. We urgently need sensible energy policy based on free market prices, profit and loss, not the present failing tangle of state intervention. Public welfare depends upon it.”