08 September 2022

Energy support not the ‘solution’ to the gas crisis, energy boss says

08 September 2022

The Government has bought itself two years to insulate millions of British homes, plant solar and wind farms across the country and install heat pumps, the boss of a major energy supplier has said.

Keith Anderson, who leads ScottishPower, said that the Government had helped customers with an announcement that bills will be guaranteed not to rise above £2,500 for the average household.

“Hats off to the Government, they have made a big, big intervention,” he told the PA news agency.

“They have taken away a huge amount of worry and concern for customers, and that’s a good thing. A really, really good thing. That’s what we wanted.”

But he said this is not the end of the road in the energy crisis.

Keith Anderson, boss of Scottish Power (PA) (PA Wire)

“No matter what policy they picked, it was never going to be the end solution.

“The policy today buys us two years to go and fix a whole load of problems at source.

“That is a mixture of building renewables like hell, and going hell for leather building it faster and faster.”

He said offshore and onshore wind are needed, as are solar. He also called for a “massive investment and acceleration in heat pump deployment to stop us burning gas”.

“The next one is going hammer and tongs at energy efficiency. You have a two-year window now to do a massive roll-out programme, properly insulating homes and helping people save energy and save money.”

He also called for the price of electricity to be decoupled from the price of gas.

“If you do those four things that’s what allows you to stop the price freeze,” Mr Anderson said.

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica, promised to continue donating 10% of profits to help vulnerable households.

These households are still facing doubled energy bills despite the support announced on Thursday.

“We know people are deeply worried about the increase in their energy bills this winter,” Mr O’Shea said.

“Extraordinary circumstances call for us all to think differently and we know this bold customer support package from the new Prime Minister and Chancellor will bring immediate relief to hard-pressed households.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday announced a support package that will cap bills at £2,500 for the average household from the start of October.

Ofgem welcomes this significant and unprecedented support for energy consumers across the country

It takes off the pressure for now, said Energy UK, the trade body for energy suppliers.

“We shouldn’t forget, though, that many households are already struggling with the bill rises so far, and wider cost-of-living challenges, and suppliers continue to do all they can to provide extra support to those that need it most,” said its director of advocacy, Dhara Vyas.

She called for focus to now turn to bringing down costs for customers by insulating Britain’s leaky housing stock and investing in wind and solar power.

But Truss’s plan included no new promises on renewable energy, instead focusing on fracking and North Sea oil and gas. It also included nothing on insulation or other forms of energy efficiency.

Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley said: “Ofgem welcomes this significant and unprecedented support for energy consumers across the country.

“It’s been clear to Ofgem and the Government since we announced the new price cap that the new Government would have to act urgently and decisively to support consumers and this package of support will be welcomed by millions across Britain.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox