New guidelines to help the British energy regulator OFGEM make sure energy companies work towards meeting challenging environmental and social goals have been proposed by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt. The Sustainable Energy Policy Network (SEPN) website, bringing a new transparent and accountable way of working, has also been launched. The measures have been strongly supported by the representatives of the renewable energy industry.London, England – June 6, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “The Energy White Paper set out our vision for the future of energy policy in the UK,” Hewitt said. “We need to make sure we have secure energy at affordable prices, but we need to use energy more efficiently and urgently address the impact we make on the environment.” The guidelines are published in a consultation paper which suggests how OFGEM can strengthen its role in helping to meet the Government’s target of putting the UK on a path to cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent by 2050 while continuing to protect the interests of consumers. It places responsibility on the regulator to: – remove any barriers that might prevent progress towards these targets; and – provide a framework within which business is encouraged to work towards these objectives. OFGEM already has the duty to protect consumers, particularly the vulnerable. One of the key aims of the recent Energy White Paper was to end domestic fuel poverty by 2016-18. The target for ending fuel poverty in vulnerable households is 2010. The Government believes that a better environment is also in the interests of both current and future consumers, and has set challenging aims for improving energy efficiency and the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources. The SEPN guidance calls for OFGEM to help work towards these all of these targets. OFGEM will be reporting annually on how it is contributing towards these objectives. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), which represents the UK wind industry, has already welcomed the formation of SEPN, which they say will benefit the wind industry and renewable energy in general. “The need for ‘joined-up’ thinking in the renewables agenda has long been recognized by BWEA as vital to securing both the 2010 target and 2020 aspirations on renewables,” said BWEA CEO Marcus Rand. “There are a number of challenges facing the wind industry that will require a genuine cross-departmental effort. We strongly welcome this move and will play our part in supporting its objectives.” BWEA has long noted that the barriers to further development of the UK’s vast wind resource are not technical, but rather institutional and as such are entirely within Government influence. These include access to the grid, financing, planning and military aviation and radar concerns. BWEA believes that the SEPN will provide the necessary political impetus to secure the UK’s renewables future and welcomes particularly the inclusion of government departments such as the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence and the energy regulator Ofgem, to break the constraints which have been identified as jeopardizing the harnessing of one of the UK’s must abundant and natural resources. Hewitt also launched the SEPN website which she said represents a new way of working for government. It is about ensuring the right communications and links are made across and beyond government to deliver the White Paper. The website will make public which officials are responsible for progressing these objectives. The network will report to a ministerial committee, chaired by Ms Hewitt and Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which will meet for the first time later this month.