Chris Huhne was on the Andrew Marr show this morning. As you might expect on a day when the Sunday Telegraph broke the news that fuel bills will boom by 30 per cent as a result of green taxes, the Energy Secretary was asked to ruminate at length on all matters Murdoch. Eventually, though, Huhne had to answer searching questions pertaining to his brief.
Confronted with the Sunday Telegraph’s story, Huhne described it as ‘nonsense’ because it did not take potential savings into account. Huhne also pledged to introduce more competition to shatter the grip that the ‘Big Six’ utility companies have on 90 per cent of the UK’s energy market. Greater competition should, theoretically, lower bills. But the primary cause of dramatically rising energy prices is the various levies on energy consumption, which are designed to subsidise investment in a new generation of green technology. Huhne believes that bills will be reduced as consumers make their energy use more efficient under the Green Deal; but there are serious concerns about the probable take-up of the Green Deal, especially among the poorest.
Above all though, Huhne’s plan relies on maximising the output of wind power to ensure that supply meets demand when Britain’s carbon output declines. His department and the Treasury have banked on offshore wind farms generating more than 32GW of energy from 2015; the National Grid, however, suggests that output in 2020 would be closer to 12GW. In that context, it’s difficult to share Huhne’s optimism.