As Philip is on holiday this week Jennifer Powers, Head of Government Affairs, has written a guest blog.
The Energy Bill received its second reading in the House on Wednesday and it was interesting to see the widespread support that exists for policies such as feed-in tariffs and mandated smart metering from both opposition parties and the labour backbenchers (but not, as of yet, the Government).
While neither policy is a magic bullet for incentivising energy efficiency and microgeneration, both are necessary as part of a wider suite of measures, if we are to make the step change in carbon reduction that is needed. The evidence thus far shows that smart meters on their own engender as little as one per cent saving in energy in the home (though even Ofgem admits this is a very conservative estimate) but the point is that they make energy consumption more transparent and information is the first step if people are to change behaviour. By making energy use, and energy saving, tangible smart meters make consumer engagement and subsequent action that much easier. Communication from energy companies through the meter and support from people like Energy Saving Trust will mean that many more people make changes to the products they buy and how they behave in the home.
Conservative Shadow Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP called for both smart metering and feed in tariffs to be included in the Bill and said he would be introducing amendments to this effect in Committee. He is not alone. The ERA and energy suppliers are lobbying hard for their inclusion in the Bill and rumour has it that work is underway across Whitehall to investigate the detail of how this might be done. So maybe it will happen after all.