Britain Seeks Support for Green Power from Energy Companies

The British government has challenged electricity and gas companies to facilitate the use of renewable energy sources in that country.

LONDON, England, UK, 2001-05-08 <> Utilities can fulfil a vital role in helping poorer households create healthy homes and a greener environment, says Energy minister Peter Hain as he released proposed regulatory guidelines for electricity and gas companies. The document asks the energy regulator, Ofgem, to reflect government policies to protect the environment and the poorest members of society. “The warmth and comfort of homes is crucial to people’s health,” says Hain. “This government has made a firm commitment to protecting the environment and the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. If gas and electricity can be made cheaper and greener then they should be.” There are 4.5 million homes in the U.K. that are defined as in fuel poverty, and Hain wants electricity and gas companies to play a role in making healthy and warm homes affordable to everyone. He says there is growing concern that current energy production and use is damaging the environment, adding that industry has a part to play in beating those problems. “Ofgem has a key part to play in greening energy regulation and protecting all of us, including the poorest, from market abuse,” he explains.”Ofgem will work to make markets more open, more transparent and more flexible to the needs of all consumers. People have a right to high quality information to help make decisions about energy suppliers and payment systems.” The government guidelines will ensure that the regulator works to increase the use of renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It encourages Ofgem to consider what it can do to ensure that customers have access to safe, secure and economical supplies of electricity and gas at competitive prices, and to help Britain achieve its commitments under the Kyoto protocol. It will “promote energy efficiency at all stages in the energy chain and encourage energy suppliers to promote energy efficiency (and) facilitate the use of renewable energy sources and bring forward as many projects as possible” under the Non Fossil Fuels Obligation. It will also encourage embedded generation, including combined heat and power (cogeneration). The document will be circulated for public consultation until August 24. The British government has set a target of 10 percent of domestic electricity to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2010, subject to costs being acceptable to consumers. The targets must meet 5 percent by 2003 and the guideline says Ofgem “should have regard to this objective when exercising its functions.” It should “have regard to the desirability of access to the transmission and distribution network for renewable sources on reasonable and proportionate terms, which do not place them at an unfair disadvantage compared to load customers, taking into account the advantage of these sources.”

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