Energy efficiency: why are politicians and media missing the real issue?

Energy efficiency: why are politicians and media missing the real issue?


David Hutton

David Hutton


Recent weeks have seen an explosion in discussion amongst politicians and the media about the consequences of energy efficiency. The "roll back of green taxes" and the "£50 off your bill" pledge coupled with price rises from the energy companies created a perfect storm for discussion on the content, merits and benefit of the "green taxes" as they apply to energy efficiency measures.  However, notwithstanding the attention, the outcome was an Autumn Statement which is likely to lead to some perverse outcomes. 

If it was a campaign then the energy companies made the greatest advances with a watering down not just of the ECO commitment itself but of the measures to be delivered.  More significantly a discussion on the main issues has been missing.  For example:

  1. there has been little linkage between this initiative and the 31,000 unnecessary winter deaths last year; and
  2. at a time of fragile economic growth and with large numbers of poorly insulated properties, the Autumn Statement could herald up to 10,000 job losses.

It also is leading to huge concern at a local delivery level and within the industry about missed opportunities let alone the missed opportunity to support the fuel poor and vulnerable.

To recap, the proposed retrofit programme combining ECO and Green Deal offers significant benefits to the UK not least the:

  1. impact on carbon reduction
  2. fact that it ought to be regarded as one of the major infrastructure programmes for this country and that it should be included in the National Infrastructure Plan
  3. opportunity to create jobs in local economies particularly for SMEs with skill and training commitments; and
  4. ability to assist those in fuel poverty and other vulnerable households thereby tackling related issues such as the drain on stretched healthcare resources.

None of these messages are being rehearsed or played out by either the politicians or the media; why?  It is such a good story to potentially tell as to the benefits of these measures that we thought we would start by drawing these out. 

There is a consultation over the proposed changes to the ECO system that we would encourage all parties interested in this sector to respond to particularly to highlight those consequences of the proposed changes and to flag the missed opportunities that will result from the watering down of commitments and opportunity.

A further consequence has resulted in many public entities, especially local authorities and registered providers to rethink their strategies.  Initially attracted to driving energy efficiency programmes using ECO, the reduction in availability and applicability is leading to a new strategy needing to be developed.  Bevan Brittan are holding a seminar on 23 January to explore these issues and to examine alternative approaches. 

More specifically, this seminar aims to investigate and present the reasons behind the introduction of energy saving models in housing and non-domestic properties. It will analyse the issues for consideration in developing options, appraisals and business planning. Additionally, it will outline some of the delivery mechanisms for different technologies and discuss ways to manage risk.

If you would like to attend this free seminar please register here.

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