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Is The New Energy Bill A Good Deal For British Businesses And Consumers?

City A.M.

YES: Tim Yeo

If we do not find £100bn of investment by 2020, Britain will face an energy crisis. We need to replace polluting coal power plants and construct new nuclear reactors. The government’s Energy Bill will give generators a guaranteed price for clean, low-carbon electricity. This will cut the risk of investing in projects with high up-front costs, like nuclear or offshore wind farms. Claims that low-carbon levies are the only reason bills would be pushed up for consumers is misleading: there is a risk that world energy prices may continue to rise (as they have done over the last five years). This has been the main cause of increasing fuel bills. We need a diversified energy mix that improves energy security, while cutting emissions. This is why I will be backing plans to increase the support for nuclear and other low carbon energy sources.

Tim Yeo is Conservative MP for South Suffolk and is chair of the Energy and Climate Change committee.

NO: Benny Peiser

Green energy subsidies will come back to haunt the government. As energy bills go up, the coalition will become increasingly unpopular. These policies will prove to be economically and politically costly. At a time when many countries are returning to cheap and abundant fossil fuels, Britain alone seems prepared to sacrifice its economic competitiveness. We will undermine our recovery by wasting billions on one of the most expensive, least efficient forms of energy. Millions will be consigned to fuel poverty. Some experts have warned that the impact may be catastrophic – 300,000 companies could go out of business as energy bills continue to rise. The only saving grace is that the government has refused to adopt new unilateral carbon targets, and it may be ready to give shale gas extraction the go-ahead without further impediment.

Dr Benny Peiser is director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. 

City A.M., 26 November 2012