During what many people are dubbing the Energy Election, parties and people from all parts of the political spectrum have been putting their two cents in on the energy industry.
There has been support and guffaws at potential price freezes, both anger and agreement in equal measure about fracking and onshore wind power and lots of talk of competition, emissions targets and energy efficiency. But one thing that became clear at this week’s ‘Energy UK breakfast briefing – the energy election’ is that whatever the outcome post-election, the energy industry will need the Government to give clarity in the form of coherent policies in order to sensibly move forward.
Chaired by Jillian Ambrose, the news editor of Utility Week, the breakfast briefing took place at Energy UK’s offices in Central London on Tuesday morning. Jillian started the debate with the three panellists in journalistic fashion by posing the divisive question: “What would be the most concerning outcome of the election?”. As might be expected, it soon became clear that what concerns one side of the industry would be the perfect result for another. For instance, someone in the onshore wind industry would understandably be concerned with a Conservative majority; whereas someone in the fracking industry may come away feeling considerably more settled in the future of their business.
By far the biggest ticket item was Ed Miliband’s much-discussed price freeze. There was a feeling from some that this was a bad policy for UK energy. And, as power prices have fallen since the announcement, it is a policy that could leave Miliband with egg on his face. Then again, others focused on the need to protect the consumer from the worst excesses of energy expense.
There are no prizes for guessing which side of the political spectrum the pro and anti-price freeze belonged to. However, despite their differences there was a bipartisan call for clarity: if there is a majority government on May 8th, the industry can adapt, plan and invest accordingly even if it’s not led by their preferred candidate. If instead we are given months of political wrangling and coalition assembly, then this becomes impossible – by far the most problematic scenario for the industry.
So, is this the Energy Election? At Aspectus, we’ll certainly have one eye on the energy horizon this Thursday.