A business like relationship with Mr Huhne


                    Yesterday it was M r Huhne’s turn to launch extensive legislation to the Commons,  He choose to produce a Bill with many pages on the Green Deal, and a bit at the end on guarateeing supply of energy.

                     I was mainly interested in how the government plans to keep the lights on. I asked how many new power stations had been approved in his first year, and how many additional stations he hoped to approve and get into build this year. I was told I had to wait until the autumn for an answer. I just  hope decisions about the new power stations we need are being made more rapdily than the questions are being answered.

                     Other colleagues concentrated on the Green Deal, which was the intention of the Minister given the balance of his speech and the proportions of the Bill. The Green Deal is one of those friendly ideas that has many mothers and fathers. We included proposals to make it easier for people to insulate their homes in the Economic Policy Review. The Conservative Manifesto included such a proposal. Labour and Lib Dems were also working on similar ideas.

                         We have long agreed about the outlines of the policy. Homeowners and tenants  will be able to borrow money to make their homes more fuel efficient from their power provider. The power provider will get the loan money back over time out of the savings made on the bill from greater fuel efficiency. No public money is involved.

                               What we wanted to k now yesterday was how the detail would work. Will you be able to buy double glazing? The Minister did not know. What would be the implied rate of interest on the loan? The  Minister did not know. How would it work is people wanted a warmer home after the improvements were made, so there were no big savings on the bill? The Minister did not supply the detail. He did confirm that the debt rested with the property when you sold it or moved on.

                                    The Minister told us the important  detail would come later in secondary legislation. It left some of us wondering why we carry on legislating in this way, where the important things get left out of the Bill. If the Green Deal is going to work we need answers soons on how much money, how much it costs, what it can buy, and how we can avoid the bureaucracy of the scheme swallowing the savings.

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  1. David Price
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    If this is a simple loan arrangement involving no public funds I fail to understand why a government bill must be passed.

    However, if HMG is involving itself I’d like to know how they will ensure that those who don’t borrow will not be penalised by the energy company setting higher prices to maintain cash flow while providing these loans to others.

    Please continue to press the minister and department for a credible plan for energy security. I am not holding my breath though since they can’t even tell you anything of their first years progress.

    BTW – Good news last week that Wokingham planners have rejected the application to bolt 4 very large wind generators to the flood plain just south of the M4. These would have had detrimental impacts on Wokingham residents but no real benefit whatsoever to us.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I see that the Bank of England predicts lower (even lower) growth, higher 5% inflation and energy bill up 15%. Well what a surprise when the government policies of tax and waste are clearly all aimed at producing exactly these outcomes.

  2. lojolondon
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    It is astounding to see how misguided and foolish the LibDems are – they have always seemed like a bunch of idiotic misfits, but to see how hopeless they are at running anything is astounding.
    Hune and Cable are the best examples right now, typical head-in-the-clouds, politically correct policies announced at massive expense to the taxpayer, with no practical idea of how it will work, they are prepared to throw masses of other people’s money at the issue and see what happens.
    I believe they have truly exposed themselves and are never going to be in power again.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      The Liberals for year have just said whatever they thought would win votes – often different things to different UK regions. They had never imagined or planned to run anything. To do so well they clearly need to ditch all their idiotic pre-election guff.

    • Derek Buxton
      Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately they are in power now due to Cameron and his love- in with wind power. That in itself is utter nonsense and should be scrapped immediately, it would save a fortune and keep so many people from energy poverty.
      I saw last night a TV documentary on the National Grid, interesting but just watching it gave the lie to any claim that wind power has any beneficial use. It is a white elephant stealing resources from where they would be better employed, like building power stations.

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Wait a minute – what is the government doing legislating about what private energy companies do with their money? What has it got to do with them?
    The global warming thinggy is soooooo yesterday.
    And they STILL haven’t read Christopher Booker (and you) about keeping the lights on.
    Well done for pointing out the other slack pieces of thinking too.

    I have been firmly either LibDem or conservative all my life. Now I am beginning to have serious doubts.

  4. Chris
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    “He did confirm that the debt rested with the property when you sold it or moved on.”
    I’m not personally keen on that idea and I don’t think I would buy a house with a debt attached to it; certainly not at my age, when things like mortgages are (thankfully) a thing of the past.
    As for savings on bills; I doubt if anyone is actually going to save much, considering the fact that energy prices are likely to rocket. Paying the green-deal loan out of the savings on bills is all very well, but when the energy costs actually go screaming up, people will have less money available to pay the loan with.
    I won’t be participating in any loan scheme; if we decide we need something, we’ll pay for it outright. It just encourages people into more debt.

  5. Robert K
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I can’t help feeling that what we need is less legislation, not more. But I guess that once people get into government they feel that legislation is their job. What happened to the great repeal bill?

    • Morningstar
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      The people wanted to repeal the things which the governement didn’t want to repeal – so it was kicked into the long grass !

  6. Stuart Fairney
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Why would any power company loan customers money to make it possible for them to buy LESS of its product? This is wacky.

    This phrase

    “The power provider will get the loan money back over time out of the savings made on the bill from greater fuel efficiency. No public money is involved”

    implies higher tarriffs, ie more money for less product, otherwise how could the power company make the scheme viable? And those of us who already have insulated homes?

    You are passing a law to make my electricty and gas more expensive! Don’t you realise that?

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Permalink


      The key here is the loan is secured against your home, so you are locked into a power provider for as long as you owe them money, and simply cannot move to a less expensive or alternative source.

      A captive customer. A bit like the Inland Revenue, Council tax, etc, you then get the service they want to provide !

      That is perhaps whats in it for them.

      • Simon
        Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        So who wrote the legislation , Huhnes department or the energy cartel ?

        Remember Ford Motor Company is only a hook for Ford Credit .

        The viability of the project for the energy companies is the rate of interest they can charge on the loans isn’t it ? There isn’t going to be much takeup if it is almost 10% .

        I am starting to think that there is some way in there for the energy suppliers to reduce their tax liability .

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Alan, thanks for the clarification. You are right, you would have to be some kind of fool to borrow a few grand from XYZ power to put some insulation in, or windmill on your roof to save pennies but then to be locked in for years while they regret that the tariff has to be raised.

        Perhaps Mr Huhne would care to take my tarriff for me? (on the sole proviso that this would be legal of course, I have not seen the detail of the bill and would never expect right honourable members to engage in sharp practice or unlawful tarriff swapping of any kind).

    • StevenL
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      ‘You are passing a law to make my electricty and gas more expensive!’

      LOL! In the last 3 years I’ve just watched them print £200bn, implement real negative interest rates of 4%, swap and guarantee £300+bn worth of bank debt/assets and devalue the currency my salary is paid in by 25%.

      Why are they doing this? To make my housing more expensive. I think they want to make everything more expensive. They are all mad as hatters.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        All well made points. I agree entirely save for the fact I believe there is some design in this to erode the real value of the debt rather than pure insanity.

  7. alan jutson
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Seems like a wasted year !

    If business decisions were taken at this speed in the commercial world, they would be overtaken by their competitors in weeks.

    As you say another year closer to lights out , but in the World of politics he has not produced a plan which can be changed/reworked or modified, because there is not one outlined.

    In Lib Dem speak this is probably a success, as there is no opposition to it.

    Guess we will be importing more and more expensive energy from overseas in years to come. So much for our security and competitive power supplies for business.

    And we want growth ?
    In what, debt !

    • APL
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      alan jutson: “Seems like a wasted year !”

      From the point of view of electing a nominally Tory administration, boy doesn’t it!

      From the point of view that Cameron isn’t really a Tory and you shouldn’t expect Tory policies from an administration led by him. Business as Usual.

    • Derek Buxton
      Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Debt is the only growth area when you put the lunatics in charge of the asylum. And who put Huhne in charge of energy and climates change? And what does that make Cameron?

  8. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Maybe Huhne’s mind was on other things but isn’t this typical of what continues to happen. A minister proposes legislation without any detail with the likely prospect that it will be dropped e.g. forestry or paused e.g. NHS. There is such a rush to introduce new measures before they have been thought out or any consideration is given to implementation and the competence of the government is suffering as a result.

    • Morningstar
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry – as soon as they spot something Gordon Brown failed to tax – the legislation will be through quick smart !

  9. JimF
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Remember, for a Libdem it’s principles that matter not the money to pay for them. Strange they weren’t better bedfellows with Mr Brown.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      Had Cameron and his, soft socialist, manifesto lost even a few more votes than he actually did they would have been in bed will Labour for sure. Would that have been any worse? At least we might have had a proper government at the next election.

  10. A.Sedgwick
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    “It left some of us wondering why we carry on legislating in this way” – Simon Heffer is right on the money again today.

  11. Susan
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    What a distaster it was for Cameron to appoint Huhne to the position of climate Minister, the man is a complete menace in Government. I would not have expected an answer on power stations from him, because he believes the whole engery gap can be solve by giant turbines. This awful man believes he only has to be aggressive towards anyone who dares to question him and it wins him the argument.

    I am not sure at all about loans made in this way by power providers, there is far too much that can go wrong, especially if the detail is not worked out properly. It is almost certain, if Huhne has anything to do with outlining the process, on his past record, something will almost certainly go wrong. Detail is not this mans forte, negative rhetoric is more his style.

    Honestly, I despair, about this Coalition, the other day we were talking about a very able Minister, Lansley, who has been undermined, after working so hard on detail to bring about reform. Now we are talking about an inept Minister, who seems able to do and say anything he likes without being brought to account, including threatening legal action against his own Coalition partners.

    The lights will go out.

    • APL
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      Susan: “the position of climate Minister, ”

      Should such a ministerial position, with the ministerial limousine, the ministerial salary > £100,000 plus ample expenses, not to mention the globe trotting ‘jollies’ to all the climate conferences in exotic locations around the world, should it even exist?

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        No the only climate they control is the current anti growth anti business climate.

      • Derek Buxton
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink


  12. Javelin
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m not a fan of Global Warming is fodder for flat-earthers who still belive humans are the center of the universe. Look at how Global Warmists manipulate the graphs of temperature rise – and left of the temperate changes in the middle ages (when there was no carbon output) or the huge temperature changes in the ice ages (that render our temperate changes as completely insignificant).

    I do believe in saving energy, securing energy supplies, pollution reduction, waste reduction, quality of life, species and environment protection YES – but Global Warming and Carbon Tax Credits – no.

    Most of all I praise the strides being made to create efficient solar cells. Every 6 months I read about significant progress. Real science is coming up with real solutions. If this Government wants better energy supplies give free grants out to Phd students to study solar cells.

    • StevenL
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know anyone who has looked independently at carbon credits/carbon offsets/carbon trading who likes this policy. Capitalists and socialists, once they know how it works, seem to hate it alike.

  13. lifelogic
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    These schemes are usually pointless. They tend to insist on particular equipment and providers who then are able to charge more (due to the loans existence) .

    So modern condensing boilers save a small amount of energy but are far less reliable due to their excessive complexity and safely cut out systems. So after maintenance often nothing is achieved.

    The pay back on most retrofit insulation (apart from on hot water tanks, some roof & wall and draft exclusion) is so long as to not be worth while).

    Since both Cameron and Clegg have been strongly green with their talk then their approach will have to be:

    Pretend to be green with a few sill schemes and pointless visible house bling and turbines that you are being green.

    Meanwhile concentrate on Nuclear, Coal, Gas, Shale Gas, Oil, Coal Gasification, French Nuclear electric link behind the scenes, as these work and are cost effective.

    We have plenty of the first part can we have some of the sense in the latter part. We also need to get out of the EU carbon obligations and the EU in general.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      All the nonsense feed in tariffs should go too. Or if they need a political fig leaf they should be so restrictive that no one can take them up. That way they can still worship the “green god” while not wasting too much money or encouraging nonsense technology everywhere.

      On universities again sorry – are the government really going to ban people for paying for education, at the full price, at UK universities just for deference to the “equality god”. Good news for sensible overseas ones then I suppose. Will they ban/ration educational books and videos too, as not all can afford them either?

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink


        Not sure if it would work, but suppose you could always use a foreign address (those with second/holiday homes) should you wish to pay the full whack, as long as they will accept a UK passport.

        Family friend of ours actually recruits foreign students for a major University, and travels the world to do so. I am reliably informed that the fees they pay, typically £20,000 or more, helps subsidise home students fees.

        • lifelogic
          Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          Indeed the fees are huge for people outside the EU (even Isle of Man and Channel Islands residents) so what is the problem if the university is making a profit they can make more places for these high paying customers. Why prohibit it?

          • Bazman
            Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            Errrr! Because they are to stupid to attend university? Dim Tim has the right to a university education just because his father is rich?

          • lifelogic
            Posted May 13, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            Yes if they can pay for it fully and cope with the course why on earth not. They could after all buy it at many other places in the world and the university can provide more places with the money they get. Just as any other industry provides more cars, boats houses or anything if they have the (money backed) demand.

            What is the problem would you rather they bought a Ferrari or a degree in history of art or something? What is your problem?

    • Bazman
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Regulation of new build house heat emissions is a must building companies will not do this without being forced.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:38 am | Permalink

        Companies will not do it because customers house buyers do not want it enough.

        • Bazman
          Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

          They do not want low energy bills?

          • lifelogic
            Posted May 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

            Yes but customer do not want to pay £20,000 more for a house with small windows, bulky extra insulation (thus smaller rooms) a complex and less reliable boiler condensing and silly dim and poorly chromatic lights just to save £100 PA on their heating and electric bills.

            They would probably rather wear a jumper for a few more weeks or pay the £100.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        Trust me, we are regulated up to the gills at the moment.

    • Bazman
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      Just make the first 4k of units really cheap then any units over this tax at wildly escalating rates. This will then allow poor people to have electricity and rich to use as much as they like? All regulation and silly schemes like nuclear and wind power can then be abolished.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        Sound like a good way of pushing industry and the richer abroad and making everyone poorer.

        • Bazman
          Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

          So every step of progress will be hindered by the rich leaving if they don’t like something? They tend to live in advanced and popular society like London. Their bluff needs to be called on many things. They can go and live in their third world countries and not turn this country into one, because when they do they will leave.

      • Derek Buxton
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        That is a really stupid argument. We are going to be short of generating capacity in a very short time compared to the time required to build up capacity. Unlike the three day week of Heath with it’s power cuts we have moved on, a very long way. If we get power cuts now, everything comes to a standstill. You can forget about your shopping in supermarkets they will not work, at all. Hospitals could be dodgy, even more so than now, and forget receiving pensions or any computer generated payments. Stone age, here we come!

  14. oldtimer
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    For Green Deal read Green Scam. The three main political parties are determined to undermine the economic future of the UK by their addiction to Green policies as set out in the Climate Change Act and the Carbon Plan. On present policies it is clear that energy will cost more than it needs to cost (thank the carbon tax and the need to duplicate energy generation capacity for that), that energy supply will be unreliable (confirmed by a government appointed committee earlier in the week) and that any business seeking to develop UK energy sources can expect to be hit with super taxes without forewarning (it has already happened).

    This is a recipe to cut back on industrial activity (and the related jobs) in the UK as much as it is a policy to discourage the inhabitants of Sheffield to fly abroad on holiday (as reportedly said by a Cabinet minister). It is obvious that this recipe is intended to have all of these consequences. The government is seeking to persuade the public of its necessity by quoting questionable science coupled with outright scaremongering. One day the public will wake up to the truth of what is happening.

  15. Bryan
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Simple market economics state that if peoples energy consumption reduces then the cost per ‘therm’ must increase to cover generation, costs, delivery, research, and increasing profits.

    So, as well as paying through the nose for developing the ‘green’ energy policy, the hard pressed taxpayer will pay higher prices for lower consumption.

    Makes sense to ostriches I suppose!

  16. Bryan
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    We seem to be pounding ahead with off-shore wind farm development despite the cost, the unreliability of supply, and the fact that few other countries are now pursuing this expensive green energy source.

    A The Times report today again mentions the gross capacity of each new proposed giant turbine, ignoring the average delivery of < 30% of rating, that equivalent reliable generating capacity has to be available in reserve, and that in winter on cold still nights (quite common) the existing wind farms will deliver zero electricity – just when it is most needed.

    Does the government really have a joined-up energy policy? or is it all down to politics again?

  17. Alte Fritz
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Mr Huhne is a noisy fellow yet this sort of undemocratic method of legislation seems to be accepted without demur. Members do not know, and have less opportuntiy to scrutinise let alone vote on undesirable parts of statutory instruments. What a liberal democracy.

  18. David John Wilson
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    A lot could be achieved without grants. Changes to the planning laws so that all new builds and extensions to existing properties meet stringent insulation requirements would help. The current rules derived from the EU requirements do not go far enough.
    All commercial builds and domestic properties in the higher council tax bands, including extensions taking them into those bands should be required to include solar generation. The exception should be where this can be proven not to be effective. It should be illegal to erect a new build which blocks existing solar panels as recently happened to a friend of mine.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink


      Building Regulations are minimum standards, there is absolutely nothing to stop or prevent people installing better insulation to new build or extensions.

      As you probably well know, you can get to a level of thermal efficiency in a property where you need very little energy at all to heat your home or gain hot water, it comes down to the cost of installation compared to the cost savings made, to the cost of the energy required to power what you want.

  19. norman
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I’m firmly of the opinion that our politicians should do as little as possible but in this case, unfortunately, we need action as the energy sector is the most heavily regulated of all.

    If there isn’t a knowledgeable Minister, willing to accept the advice of experts, at the helm who can get things done then, in the words of Cpl Fraser, we’re a’ doomed.

  20. Tim Carpenter
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    This Bill appears to be almost dangerous.

    Like “smart meters”, it appears to bind the physical home a single energy provider.

    In both scenarios, how to shift provider is kept vague. Such wheezes do tend to smell a bit like an attempt to lock in Market share.

    Companies will try this, but it is surely the remit of any governement seeking legitimacy to curb and not entrench such attempts.

    Writing legislation to specifically allow, and I fear back up with enforcement those who seek to overturn or withdraw from unfair arrangements, is completely the opposite.

  21. Graham Cook
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    This process is disgraceful and any executive presenting this ‘woolly’ proposal in business would be shown the door. We are chained to stupid ineffectual policies.

    It is frightening that such people as Huhne are allowed to play with the lives of the general population who have no say in the matter. I feel so angry, as I am sure do many others, but completely powerless.

    John what can be done to restore some sort of balance to the climate/energy planning of the country?

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      A very well made point. Once again, politicians are judged by different (and lower) standards to the rest of us.

  22. FaustiesBlog
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I suspect that Huhne is more interested in the “supergrid” that a group of people (maybe including some ed_), (who stand to gain a lot of money and influence out of it) were questioned about in the HoC.



    Grimond Room
    Meeting started on Tuesday 10 May at 10.11am ended at 11.58am

    A European Supergrid
    i Friends of the Supergrid, Institution of Engineering and Technology
    ii Pöyry, and RenewableUK

    Huhne is probably making representations on this and awaiting ‘suitable’ responses before committing himself to nuclear. You might want to make some enquiries.

  23. NickW
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    This is complete and utter nonsense and someone should have the guts to say so.

    There is going to be a huge gap between what the salesman promises in the way of energy saving and what the savings are in reality.

    It is simply encouraging more debt and leaving people without the means to service it.

    Why not just zero rate insulation and other proven energy saving products and forget about all the additional spin and bureaucracy?

    Why isn’t the Conservative Parliamentary Party blocking manifestly lunatic Lib Dem policies?

    Why do we have to listen to Clegg boasting about how he stopped the Conservative plans for most reforms while Conservative MPs stand around like eunuchs in the face of this idiocy? (Yourself excepted).

    • StevenL
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      What’s the bet it won’t be offically classed as ‘consumer debt’ by the ONS and BofE but will appear as an ‘asset’ on the utilities companies balance sheets?

      • Simon
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Asset in the banking understanding of the term – yes .

  24. acorn
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    JR, I have a cunning plan. Much time and energy could have been saved in parliament yesterday. Huhne’s Energy Bill could have been reduced to one page that just said “I will bring in numerous pieces of secondary legislation to enact this “green deal” thing, when we work out exactly what we meant”. The green deal was a piece of fluff that was just meant to be a green vote catcher. The explanation note does a good job of not explaining the Bill. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2010-2011/0167/en/11167en.htm

  25. forthurst
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    If the government wants to constrain energy consumption, it should simply tax higher those consumers for whom the extent of consumption is voluntary; the market will then adapt by increasing efficiency of utilisation. Half baked schemes which have nothing to do with the government, in order to pretend they are actively saving the planet will simply waste more money and increase the already excessive bureaucratic overhead of breathing. Furthermore, increasing taxation, whose burden could be redistributed, on utilisation, is preferable to the extremely wasteful approach of constraining the production of energy to the most expensive and unreliable means possible.

  26. Liz
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    When the lights go out and we are plunged back into the dark ages with all the computers inactive & modern day life impossible, as will happen as there is no political wil to prevent this by building new power stations, then the party in power at the time will be sentenced to political oblivion for ever. The public will not forgive them. Maybe this thought should concentrate political minds.

  27. Neil Craig
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    If we try for it without allowing cheap power to be produced we will quickly run into the buffers (Britain has the lowest electricity production per unit of GNP of any significant developed country so we are already being seriously constrained by ecofascism).

    Because of the new development of shale oil it may now be possible to keep the lights on without nuclear, but only if we develop shale very fast indeed. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, shale is also being opposed by the Luddites.

    Keeping the lights on is the most important issue in British governance and is being ignored by almost all the politicos. The entire Tory hopes (& indeed LD ones such as they are) depend on us achieving growth – which will not happen if they continue to prevent the market producing cheap energy.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Indeed it is desperately sad that a “North Korea power scenario” i.e. little to none is now on the cards ~ hopeless, utterly hopeless.

    • StevenL
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      Making everything more expensive seems to be cross party consensus policy, not just energy, houses and food too. At the more extreme end of the eco-fanatic spectrum – the Greens and eco-socialist left – many even advocate a policy of zero GDP growth.

  28. rose
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    This was the one appointment I really worried about. I can see the neat politics of it, as I did with the universities appoinment, but surely someone must have known just how shallow and opportunistic the person in question was, and that keeping the lights on after 13 years of profligate neglect was paramount.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Those are three good points which I take, though I am not sure Mr Huhne would take the three points. Perhaps we should write to one of Mr Huhne’s aides to see if they would take the points instead? Never mind, his tenure maybe shorter than some may wish.

  29. EJT
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    “how the government plans to keep the lights on”. It doesn’t. That is what smart meters are for. ” Demand management”.

  30. Mark
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    The only logic for a “green deal” is that there are households who are unable to borrow a few thousand pounds at anything other than usurious interest rates if they are able to borrow at all – which means that worthwhile energy saving measures may not be adopted by them unless alternative means of funding are found. So far so good.

    The first problem with the bill is that it does nothing to ensure that only sound investments are made – those with a rapid payback period. In the first instance, that means simple things like loft insulation.

    Moving on from there we find that installation costs for some equipment are often needlessly high – because modern regulation that gilds the lily requires that a replacement boiler may need to be re-sited, with a new flue for example – so what should have been a £300 job to fit a £700 boiler becomes a £3,000 one. That seriously dents the real economics. One of the greenest thing that could be done is to attack the excesses of regulation.

    Some people think that relatively new technologies should benefit from this money. They are overlooking the fact that many of those technologies are – at the present state of development – not economic. Moreover, by committing to them now money will be further wasted when better alternatives that do offer more sensible economics appear, since the original investment will have to be written off before it has paid for itself (assuming it ever would).

    Several contributors have identified that companies are likely to inflate the “cost” of installation to take advantage of the available funding, regardless of the true project economics. Others have spotted the scope for utility companies to take advantage via lock-in and non-transparent pricing, as well as by having captive subsidiaries that do the installation work (which presumably will be able to book substantial up-front profits). The bill allows far too much scope for such profiteering.

    When we analyse all these factors, the conclusion is that all that needs to be “fixed” is to provide a stream of lending at sensible interest rates that reflect the social dividend of reducing our energy imports. Banks used to provide home improvement loans secured on the property at low margins, with a restricted purpose. Do we need the innovation of this bill at all if banks simply went back to doing that? Perhaps the banks should hire some energy consultants to evaluate the economics of the projects they are being asked to make loans for. After all, that’s what they do when lending to businesses, don’t they?

  31. lola
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I do so enjoy the faintly ‘Gawd help us’ tone of most of your posts. They seem to be terminated by a deep sigh.

  32. MoonLightMill
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    The Technology Strategy Board (funded by the taxpayer) currently have a project covering 86 so called different house types each receiving ‘energy savings measures’ as a pilot to national roll-out across the nation’s housing stock. The spend per unit? £146,000—One Hundred and Forty Six Thousand Pounds. Each.

    Well, we’ll all be queing up for one of those, then.

    What is it about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics that the TSB don’t already know?

  33. Bazman
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    All gone quiet on the nuclear front. Wonder why?
    This scheme exists with British Gas already. You can buy a heating system and have the cost added to your bill the price of the system is sky high compared to many installers and the you are stuck with British Gas. New build houses should have a maximum heat emission with a minimum window size before they are allowed to be built. To expensive? A bit like car safety being to expensive. I would say.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      The build new houses absurdly small and with tiny window and no ventilation due to having to meet these daft energy regulation. What has safety go to do with it?

      And what about bike safety about 15 times worse than a car clearly they need air bags, seat belts, proper brakes and the rest do you not think?

      • Bazman
        Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Car manufactures fought against improving safety every step of the way at first, citing that the customer does not want safety features and they add to much the the price of a car. A book called Unsafe At Any Speed by Ralph Nader looked into this. Yearly cosmetic changes often cost more than any safety improvement would. Air con in British cars was an expensive option in the 90’s now is pretty much standard. The cyclist is also now safer due to improvements in collision technology. It would be now more difficult to sell a car without safety features. Oh how we laugh at Chinese cars that disintegrate on impact.
        No doubt house builders have the same outlook as early and cheap car manufactures.

        • lifelogic
          Posted May 13, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

          Safety and heat loss are not the same thing!

          Safety is also not a simple problem often safety legislation has the completely opposite effect to that intended.

  34. StevenL
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    “Will you be able to buy double glazing?”

    Not if you live in a NIMBY ‘conservation zone’ is the answer.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Agreed. Never mind cutting the quangos (do cut – more – please !), how about cutting the ever increasing red-tape of planning / conservation law. Too many ordinary properties are now ‘hamstrung’ regarding home improvements on account of the unaccountable conservation (authoritarians-ed). Councillors be of no use – they support the power to ‘conserve’ !

  35. Martin
    Posted May 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    A bit off topic (but someone called Green is involved) but I’m surprised you and your euro-sceptic friends are not up in arms at this –


    Obviously the budgets in some government departments are bit over generous!
    Mind you the way that all airlines are cutting back on catering the Home Office won’t need a big database.

  36. Robert George
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    This is totally off topic John. Would you care to compare the Australian Budget introduced two days ago by a Labour government with current British Coalition or Labour Party policy. Labour in OZ is committed to returning to surplus within two years and debt is tiny compared with UK, but the OZ treasurer still made further real cuts.

    It seems remarkable to me that conservative government in Canada, and Labour in Australia seem to provide successful examples that no-one else is following , or wants to follow. Particularly in controlling expenditure.

    Reply: I agree, and often use the example of Australia, as they of course avoided the Credit Crunch b y taking a more prudent line.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 12, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Also have the advantage of not being in the EU and being in control of their own destiny.

  37. Mark
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I have wondered whether the somewhat colourful behaviour of Mr. Huhne in recent weeks hasn’t been motivated by a sudden realisation that his energy policy will result in the lights going out. He might be seeking an alternative way not to face the music over that failure. It appears that the PM remains unaware of the danger.

  38. Robert Taggart
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Johnny, is there anyone in contemporary British politics more insufferably sanctimonious than Huhne ? !

  39. sm
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Not wasting energy seems a no brainer – so the principal is fine – over to the politicians to legislate pragmatically and carefully, if needed. Caveat emptor still applies.

    Ensuring landlords meet minimum standards seems the easiest way to do this? The owner sector can probably manage and decide themselves.

    But why charge vat on energy saving installations and insulation energy saving products?

    We probably need to (leave the EU) unilaterally and delay some of our CO2 targets, and life extend our current generation fleet and plan properly. After all why (forshort term co2 reasons) decommission plant if spare capacity is needed for un-manageable intermittancy, gas can be flexed, coal can be run at lower steady outputs, current nuclear can run at stable loads but economic only at high loads.

    If geographically disparate and many many diverse grid linked renewables are so unreliable and intermittent and solutions cannot be engineered what are the Germans and the ROW doing? Lets grid connect where we can with friendly stable countries France,Norway,Northern Europe and work the problems collectively.

    Lets not forget alternatives exist to the current ( french?) nuclear paradigm (sunk costs inertia) using Thorium (abundant) molten salt reactors (originally from the 1960’s) which can be designed as non proliferating (not developed?) inherently safer, scale-able,portable and probably cheaper as a result.

    Wouldn’t relativley cheap non polluting energy be the solution for our still growing populations? Why do we need to encourage and grow our populations?

    Domestic price rationing via a rising block tariff may encourage efficiency in comjunction with direct insulation grants to landlords and minimum landlord standards.

    The ever changing guidelines for internal flues regimes are economically insane (for users) as implemented on the ground for a 2012 deadline. Fitting CO detectors should be enough until the boiler needs replacing/resiting.- probably a period of 10 yrs. Forcing upgrades and engineers not to service after a ‘date’ is suboptimal.
    Deaths versus cost? I would wager more engineers kill themselves driving to the appointments to replace the boilers?

  40. Spartacusisfree
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    The problem we face is that the CAGW scare is based on incorrect physics:

    1. In 1922, astronomer Arthur Milne made a mistake in solving an equation for IR absorption in the atmosphere.

    2. ‘Climate scientists’, generally pretty poor in intellect, made an elementary mistake when they confused measured IR radiation within the atmosphere, much of which is simply the result of matter being above absolute zero [Prevost’s law], with the imaginary heating from [1].

    3. The claim that without GHG warming the temperature of the earth’s surface would be -18°C is absolutely wrong. Gravitational potential energy causes most of that heating: the ‘lapse rate’. This wrong physics is now taught in schools and Universities.

    3. In the 1950s, a Dutch physicist wrongly guessed that larger than expected backscattered energy from a sol was caused by biased internal optical scattering when in reality, it’s a second optical effect. Sagan picked this up and his equation, and similar, makes the models calculate a false cooling from polluted thicker clouds which was believed to hide [1] and [2].

    NASA knew of these mistakes by 2004 and created fake physics to justify inclusion of imaginary heating/imaginary cooling in AR4 which accordingly was known to be wrong before publication. The upshot is that net CO2-AGW is near zero. Correct Sagan’s mistaken physics and the real cause of GW, especially at the end of an ice age, is from pollution reducing the amount of sunlight backscattered by clouds.

    Climate science has realised that for political purposes, there has been attempt by an inner group, centred on NASA, to prevent correct science from emerging. Lead scientists are jockeying for position as survivors distance themselves from those who will be blamed. Politicians are gradually realising they were conned. AR5 will be very different to AR4. Let’s hope the stupid windmills will be junked by then otherwise the economy will by 2020 be third world.

    • Jacalyn
      Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      This introduces a plaesilngy rational point of view.

  41. Johnny Norfolk
    Posted May 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I have no time at all for Mr Huhne, I think he is a complete pl***er. The sooner he goes or is pushed the better.

  42. stred
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Belatedly, as I have been working to finish a simple house extension, held up by ridiculous regulation overlaps and poor workmanship.

    I have discovered that, over the last 10 years the regulation of building has become even worse with regard to enforced waste. As you rightly point out, there are high energy costs and CO2 production related to materials and transport, particularly high in the case of metals and conrete.

    However, the system forces us to employ structural engineers to prove that a building is safely constructed. In my case, I was told by the engineer that he liked his job ‘as no one can argue about it’. When I checked his design and calculations, I found that he had chosen steel beams that were big enough to carry 4 times the design load and 3 extra steel beams where double timbers would suit design loads. In some cases spans and load areas were over-measured. He had produced a foundation detail that took all the space for insulation and would require 2 weeks work to demolish a wall and replace it with steel reinforced conrete beams. My detail required simple hangers to a lighweight bay.

    I think the CO2 contibution would have been trebled, I have ignored this nonesense and put in smaller beams and timber beams grown in the UK. However, the engineer and his opposite 2 engineers enmployed by the Council are not being helpful. The one who we paid £480 to justifies his use of steel by the words ‘we like to use steel’

    This is what happens when the civil servants and flaky politicians hve no idea about technical matters and allow the industry and professional vested interests to contribute to legislation. All it takes is a couple of dinners and opera tickets and the professional liars can swing anything.

    As an example, I have found that the Building Regulations were simplified about 10 years ago when the structural timber size tables were decimated and rounded up. Before then the regulations incorporated TRADA tables, which were very helpful and easy to use- about the only part of the reguations worth buying. These days these tables may be purchased, ata high cost having been taken out of the public domain, so everyone uses the simplified ones. The result is that throughout the UK we use a sizeable amount of extra timber, which is not necessary. What a good move by the Timber Development mob.

    Another standard process these days is the insistence of Councils on applying foundation depth to tree distance tables to soils which are not classed as shrinkable. The original tables were intende for high and medium shinkability soils, not soils such as gravel and sand, or chalk. Apparently insurance company lawyers always sue all involved if a crack appears, regardless of reason, so who would risk a claim? My engineer told me that they ‘do it all the time’. What a useful job creation programme. Good for professionals and good for industry- lots of lovely concrete down deep holes. And all totally useless.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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