EU targets ‘to raise power bills’

Published: Thursday 23rd October 2014 by The News Editor

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Energy targets set by Brussels will force up annual household gas and electricity bills by £149 within six years, research has found.

European Union red tape combined with a commitment to generate 15% of energy through renewable sources will push up domestic prices by 11%, according to the Open Europe report.

Britain’s small and medium sized businesses face an even bigger hike, with an average £350,000 rise, around 23%, in bills, the pro-reform think tank said.

Around 5% of total energy consumption, which includes heating and transport as well as electricity, came from renewables last year.

But the UK has a legally-binding EU target to source 15% of its energy from such sources by 2020.

Open Europe pointed to government impact assessments that it claimed show Brussels-related energy regulations cost Britain around £8.4 billion a year and around £96 billion in total.

It estimates that average household dual gas and electricity bills went up £59 as a result of EU regulations and targets last year.

The think tank warned that the impact on British businesses is “particularly troubling” and called for the Government and the European Commission to pursue immediate reforms, including dropping the renewables targets and revamping the EU emission’s trading scheme.

If that push fails, the Government could unilaterally drop the targets knowing they will soon expire or simply ” pay lip service” to them, it recommends.

Ditching the commitment could save up to £21 billion for the UK, according to the report.

Raoul Ruparel, Open Europe’s head of economic research, said: “Despite admirable goals the EU’s green policies have imposed huge costs but delivered limited benefit and are marred by conflicting objectives.

“With people in the UK concerned about the cost of living, business still struggling to balance their books and Europe needing a more flexible energy supply to wean itself off dependence on Russian gas, a radical re-think of the EU’s energy policy is now vital. Neither the EU nor the UK can afford to waste more time on a costly and failing policy.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “We don’t recognise the way these figures have been presented.

“We estimate that, in 2013, household energy bills were, on average, around 5% lower than they would have been in the absence of all our energy and climate change policies. In 2020, we estimate that our policies will continue to reduce energy bills.

“We need a diverse energy mix that includes renewable sources like wind and solar in order to reduce our reliance on imports from often volatile parts of the world.”

Published: Thursday 23rd October 2014 by The News Editor

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