The Government could face a fresh clash with peers as proposals to scrap subsidies for new onshore wind farms cleared the Commons.
Peers initially deleted the plan to remove the subsidies from April 2016 – a year earlier than planned – when it was put before them last year.
But the Conservatives reinserted it into the proposed legislation in the Commons, insisting it is one of their 2015 general election manifesto pledges which must be implemented and could save between £20 million and £200 million a year.
The idea to end the renewables obligation (RO) early is included within the Energy Bill, which received an unopposed third reading from MPs and will return to the Lords for further scrutiny.
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd insisted the Government intends to “stand firm on its commitments”.
Earlier, the Government agreed to make it legally-binding for the UK to establish a zero emissions target.
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, responding to pressure from Labour former leader Ed Miliband, said it was a case of “not whether but how we do it” following the Paris climate change agreement in November.
Alongside changes to subsidies, the Bill also seeks to give people the final say on new onshore wind development applications in their area.
It also formally establishes the Oil and Gas Authority as an independent regulator and transfers regulatory powers and functions along with new powers to the body.
Introducing the Bill’s third reading, Ms Rudd insisted the package of measures supports the Government’s “long-term plan for secure, clean, affordable” energy supplies by implementing manifesto pledges.
She said: “Let me be explicit – this Bill enacts a manifesto commitment. Clause 79 helps to implement that commitment to end new public subsidies for onshore wind.
“Onshore wind has deployed successfully to date but without control there is a risk of over-deployment beyond the range we have set for 2020, the range that we consider affordable.
“Over-deployment would potentially add extra costs to consumer bills or reduce the amount of support available to less mature technologies, such as offshore wind, that need help to bring their costs down – just as public subsides have brought down the cost of onshore wind.”
Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy said the Bill has “absolutely nothing to say” about the major energy challenges facing the UK.
She told MPs: “It is a missed opportunity to mend our broken energy market and to make good on the promise that the Prime Minister gave four years ago when he told this House he would legislate to put every household in Britain onto the cheapest energy tariff.
“It’s extraordinary that during the passage of this Bill we have learnt that this broken promise has cost Britain’s households an extra £1.7 billion every year and once again this Energy Bill led by this Government lets the energy companies off the hook.
“Despite our best efforts, it is silent too on the growing risk of power shortages, which is astonishing when official figures from National Grid showed that this winter Britain could be forced to rely on back-up measures and imports from abroad just to keep the lights on.”
SNP energy spokesman Callum McCaig welcomed the creation of the Oil and Gas Authority to stop the “daft” practice of unnecessary completion in the industry.
He said: “That is a large part of how this industry will survive, it’s by working more constructively together, by stopping some of the needless competition that adds unnecessarily to cost, merely for the sake of differentiating themselves from their competitors.
“The industry was ripe with quite frankly daft practice, in terms of that unnecessary duplication and by bringing people together, by facilitating the exchange of ideas in a constructive way, the OGA has a major, major part to play in that.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Contributions