SKETCH: Woeful Yeoful’s Energy Committee on the Price Freeze

Ed Miliband’s offer of a price freeze has postponed the construction of half the new power plants we need to keep the lights on (so said the boss of the National Grid last week).

The Energy committee got the energy regulator in. Critical time, critical place, critical man.

Crisis, what crisis?

Andrew Wright, chief executive of Ofgem, isn’t responsible for retail prices. He doesn’t know what the companies pay for wholesale supplies. He doubts whether there has been excess profits. He has no evidence that anything untoward is going on.

NB: He is the interim chief executive of Ofgem.

The Energy and Climate Change committee is once more under the leadership of Tim Yeo, absent while he was being cleared by another wonderfully indulgent Commons committee (see Yeo tab, right, for list of conflict of interest charges almost as long as the VAT regulations).

Yeo’s scene-setting examples of monopoly abuse lacked deadliness. The regulator batted them aside with a slight increase in pulse-rate.

The committee then conspicuously failed to advance the argument, or even much to clarify it.

What merit is there in there in a 20-month price freeze? What would the effects be? Is it justifiable?

On the one side you have Ian Lavery saying power bills can’t be fair because people can’t afford to pay them. On the other side you have the regulator saying energy companies are making no more than 4 or 5 per cent profits.

Peter Lilley who ought to know better (that is, he ought to know) said: “People feel the price of power has been driven up by companies increasing their profits. If that were the case, their profits would be 50 per cent or more. Could you not publish some information whether that was true or not?”

The regulator replied, “That information is in the public domain.”

That was practically sarcastic.

And then, “The main drivers are cost increases.”

Are they really? That isn’t something we should be arguing about at this stage

Tory Phillip Lee asked what was his view of Ed Miliband’s price freeze proposition. After some faffing, the regulator said his consideration would be whether it had an adverse impact on consumers, “and that includes, an adverse impact on investment”.

That is significant. The regulator himself is saying a price freeze will damage investment.

“Anything that undermines confidence in the market is detrimental for consumers,” he said again, later. “When considering such policies you need to be very careful about these consequences.”

To translate the regulatory Esperanto – Ed Miliband’s price freeze would be a howling horror of a policy resulting in a hundred thousand winter deaths from hypothermia. On the other hand, it might win Ed the election.




Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Angela Rayner on Labour’s economic policy (via Speccie):

“It is a bit of a sh*t-or-bust strategy…”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral James O’Brien’s Carillion Fake News Goes Viral
O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months O’Mara Hasn’t Helped a Single Constituent in Months
Credit Where Credit’s Due Credit Where Credit’s Due
Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now Osborne on Carillion: Then and Now
Paul Mason’s Column Axed Paul Mason’s Column Axed
Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review Lord Pannick Backs Gauke’s Judicial Review
“Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle” “Get On Your Knees, B*tch” Clive Lewis Returns to Labour Frontbench in Reshuffle”
Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council Vulnerable Children’s Data Breached at Labour-Run Leicester City Council
Dover Traffic at Record Levels Dover Traffic at Record Levels
10 Times Chris Williamson Wasn’t Sacked 10 Times Chris Williamson Wasn’t Sacked
Watch: Baroness Jenkin Drops C-Bomb in Lords Watch: Baroness Jenkin Drops C-Bomb in Lords
Worboys Victims Formally Ask CPS to Reassess 93 Unprosecuted Cases Worboys Victims Formally Ask CPS to Reassess 93 Unprosecuted Cases
BBC Reined In Over False Climate Claims BBC Reined In Over False Climate Claims
Corbyn Said Davos “Conspiracy” is “Cause of World’s Problems” Corbyn Said Davos “Conspiracy” is “Cause of World’s Problems”
Khan’s ‘Independent’ Brexit Study Written by Leave-Bashers And Corbynistas Khan’s ‘Independent’ Brexit Study Written by Leave-Bashers And Corbynistas
Press-Hating Peers Pave Way for Leveson 2 Press-Hating Peers Pave Way for Leveson 2
EU Propaganda Service Chooses Soubry’s Constituency For New Base EU Propaganda Service Chooses Soubry’s Constituency For New Base
McDonnell Off to Davos McDonnell Off to Davos
“Absolute Disgrace” Worboys Victims Not Consulted on Licence Conditions “Absolute Disgrace” Worboys Victims Not Consulted on Licence Conditions
Thousands of Doctors on ‘Winter Crisis’ Ski Trips Thousands of Doctors on ‘Winter Crisis’ Ski Trips