Submitted by: 10 Members.
Mover: Wera Hobhouse MP (Spokesperson for Energy, Climate Change and Transport)
Summation: Duncan Brack
Conference believes that the UK needs a comprehensive energy strategy, designed to reduce costs to households and businesses, end fuel poverty, significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions and deliver energy security.
Conference notes with concern that:
- Domestic energy bills have risen to record levels, with the price cap increasing by nearly £800 for the average household in April, rising by £1,500 in October to nearly £3,500 and in January to almost £4,300 for the average household.
- While the government has introduced the Energy Price Guarantee, capping bills from October to March at £2,500 for the average household, rising to £3,000 in April, domestic energy bills are still over double their 2021 level.
- Citizens Advice predicted that 450,000 people would be switched to more expensive prepayment meters over the Winter.
- Businesses have faced unprecedented bill increases, and still face uncertainty with the government looking set to reduce support they receive from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme after March 2023.
- Government investment in renewable energy has plummeted, with growth in renewable capacity in 2020 and 2021 the worst since 2010.
- No UK programme directly equivalent to the EU Green Deal, which is helping to accelerate significantly the shift to renewables across Europe, has been put in place.
- Although Marine Energy could potentially meet around 20% of UK electricity demand, we have no strategy for exploiting what is the richest Tidal Range Energy resource in the world, and also lack ambition for the development of Wave Energy and Tidal Stream Energy.
- Despite the removal of restrictions on on-shore wind the government has introduced restrictions on new solar farms in England.
- Successive schemes to improve the energy efficiency of households and businesses have failed to tackle the problem, the government’s new money for home insulation does not start until 2025 and people in higher council tax bands cannot benefit from the government’s ECO+ scheme.
- While the government in their Autumn Statement increased the Energy Profits Levy for oil and gas profits there are still significant exemptions for oil and gas companies.
- The introduction of the Electricity Generator Levy on renewable generation failed to include exemptions if profits were reinvested in new renewable projects.
- New homes are still being built to relatively poor energy efficiency standards, since 2016, when the Conservatives cancelled zero-carbon homes at least 1 million built to lower standards.
- Local authorities have limited powers to support new renewable energy projects and to help people bring down their energy bills.
Conference calls on the government to:
- Remove restrictions on new solar and wind to accelerate the deployment of renewable power, providing more funding, and building more interconnectors to guarantee security of supply.
- Convert the Energy Profits Levy into a 40% windfall tax and remove the associated investment allowance, with both changes backdated to October 2021, thus ensuring that gas and oil producers pay their fair share.
- Allocate to the development of Marine Energy those revenues from Crown Estates’ offshore wind licensing that are to be returned to the Exchequer by HM King Charles III for use in the public interest.
- Establish a not-for-profit company, British Marine Energy, with a task force to plan a series of Tidal Range Energy schemes commencing with a “Pathfinder” project.
- Ensure that the Electricity Generator Levy has allowances that permit renewable generators to reinvest their excess profits in new projects.
- Introduce a one-off levy on the bonuses awarded to oil and gas executives, similar to the bankers' bonuses tax in 2009/10 in the aftermath of the financial crisis which taxed bank bonuses over £25,000 at 50%.
- Cut the Energy Price Guarantee to £1,971 for the average household until April 2024 or average prices drop below that level, whichever is soonest.
- Continue the existing Business Energy Bill Relief Scheme for a further six months from April.
- Empower local authorities to support the expansion community and decentralised energy, including by supporting the Local Electricity Bill in Parliament, reducing access costs for grid connections and reforming the energy network to permit local energy grids.
- Undertake an emergency programme to insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, with a central role in delivering this programme being taken by local authorities, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty, with non-domestic buildings following.
- Support households to cut their bills by:
- Providing free retrofits for low-income homes.
- Piloting a new subsidised Energy-Saving Homes scheme.
- Graduating Stamp Duty Land Tax by the energy rating of the property.
- Giving councils the powers to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street, which cuts costs.
- Allow homeowners to offset spending on insulation, low-carbon heat sources, EV charging points and climate adaptation measures against their income tax bills.
- Establish a Net Zero Delivery Authority sponsored jointly by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and the Treasury to oversee the delivery of Net Zero; coordinate cross departmental coordination; and facilitate the devolution of powers and resources to local governments.
- Require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard immediately, and progressively increasing standards as technology improves.
- Increase minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties and remove the cost cap on improvements - aiming for rented properties to be minimum EPC Band C by 2025 and minimum EPC Band B by 2030 where feasible.
- Appoint Warm Homes and Community Energy tsars in central government to champion these causes.
- Accelerate the current Review of Electricity Market Arrangements process to reform energy markets to ensure that households and businesses benefit from the expansion in low-cost renewables, including by:
- Decoupling electricity prices from the wholesale gas price.
- Changing how the standing charge works.
- Ending the higher costs for prepayment meter customers and giving Ministers the power to suspend the installation of prepayment meters.
- Considering a social tariff for the most vulnerable.
Conference further notes that, by taking the UK out of the EU internal energy market, the Conservative Government’s botched deal with the EU has cost the UK’s energy sector at least £250 million a year, weakened UK energy security and resilience, and made it harder to reach net-zero.
- Accelerating the development of an offshore wind energy grid in the North Sea.
- Working together with EU member states to build a sustainable supply chain for renewable energy technology.
- Installing more electricity interconnectors between the UK and neighbouring countries to ensure that any such interconnectors are located to avoid disruption to local communities and to minimise environmental damage.
- Linking the UK Emissions Trading System (ETS) to the EU ETS, creating a larger market for trading emission allowances and thereby improving its effectiveness and also avoiding significant administrative costs which will otherwise soon be hitting UK businesses.
- Protecting UK businesses from unfair competition by following the EU in introducing a carbon border adjustment mechanism for high-emission products such as metals or chemicals.
Applicability: Federal, except G. i-iii), H. ii) and iii), I., J., and K. which are England only