The cost of household electricity will rise by as much as 40 per cent by the end of the decade because of the Government’s green energy policies.
Official figures – initially withheld by ministers – show an alarming increase in the price of electricity caused by generous subsidies to wind farms as well as other policies.
An average household is expected to pay as much as £250 more for electricity – mainly through consumer subsidies – to pay for the Government’s green energy schemes, while an electrically heated house could be as much as £440 a year worse off.
And by 2030, when thousands of planned offshore wind turbines are finally operating, the burden will be even greater, the numbers show. The average household could be paying an extra 60 per cent for electricity – equivalent to £350 more a year.
Medium-sized businesses will be hit very hard, according to the new data. On average such companies will see electricity bills rise by more than £500,000 a year – a cost likely to be passed on to consumers.
The figures were made public last week by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) following a Freedom of Information request by campaigners. The information was initially prepared for an official DECC report – released at the beginning of November – which claimed that the average household fuel bill had fallen by £90 thanks to the “impact of DECC policies”.
But the tables showing the actual cost of green policies on future electricity prices for households and businesses in 2020 and 2030 were kept secret because they were “thought to be confusing”.
Their release now will embarrass ministers, who are accused of presiding over an expensive consumer subsidy system.
The Government’s climate change policies include complex consumer subsidies for wind and solar farms, as well as grants for energy efficiency measures such as loft and wall insulation, available to certain households.
The introduction of smart meters, which it is hoped will encourage lower consumption, also helped contribute to rising electricity prices.
Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, the think tank whose Freedom of Information request was responsible for forcing DECC to release the price impact tables, said: “The striking scale and increasing trend of the climate policy energy price impacts are bad enough in themselves, but DECC’s attempt to conceal these vitally important figures is breathtaking.”
Dr Constable said he had been told by informed sources that pressure had been put on DECC to withhold the tables.
“This is a very unsatisfactory situation,” he said, “Energy price impact data is so intrinsically important, and policy transparency so crucial to public trust in government, that very firm intervention is needed to clear the air and ensure that it will not happen again. This sounds like a job for the Prime Minister.”
DECC’s initial 88-page report was published on Nov 6, but the raw data on which the findings were based were omitted.
The Renewable Energy Foundation requested the figures and this week they were finally made available.
The supplementary tables show the “average impact of energy and climate change policies on households’ energy prices” will see the cost of electricity rise by as much as 42 per cent by 2020 from £131 per megawatt hour (MWh) to £186.
An average household uses about 4.5 MWh, meaning a rise of as much as £250 in the cost of electricity. By 2030, the price of a megwatt hour will increase by 60 per cent to £206.
Medium-sized businesses, according to DECC’s own figures, will pay as much as 77 per cent more for electricity in 2020 and 114 per cent more in 2030.
Such business on average consume 11,000 MWh – adding as much as £560,000 a year to the electricity bill. A typical bill could rise from £760,000 a year to £1.3 million.
DECC has claimed overall bills will fall because its green policies will lead to a reduction in household energy consumption with measures such as improved insulation and increased efficiency of electrical appliances leading to an overall drop in bills, it says.
A DECC spokesman said a decision had been taken to withhold the tables because it was “thought to be confusing”.
She said: “We always said we would publish the data anyway. It is not written anywhere but that is what we were quite clear about.”
She added: “Without the Government’s policies bills would still be higher.”