Energy prices hit the election headlines this week with Prime Minister Theresa May announcing plans for a cap.
The headline-grabbing words like ‘caps’ and ‘fixes’ that are being bounded around are aimed at the domestic market. Whatever your political leaning and whether you think that a once derided Labour policy is now front and central of Conservative policy, the cost of the energy delivered to you is rising – whether you’re a domestic or heavy industrial user.
Whichever party implements a cap, tinkering will only help some domestic users and so bigger and bolder ideas really are needed to find a way to help consumers spend less. And unless I’ve missed something, there’s an apparent lack of them coming from the main political parties during this General Election campaign.
Manifestos are not yet published at the time of writing, but I don’t currently hold out much hope for anything that exciting happening in this regard. They know consumers aren’t happy but politicians don’t seem to have any answers and just use the energy industry as a bit of a football when it suits them.
But there’s another aspect to this which is what will our energy industry look like post-Brexit? Whilst Brexit is at the forefront of this election and has been since last June, there has again been scant detail of what the effects will be on any industry in the UK – and energy is no different.
Given that we are always hearing threats like the lights may go out even now, I must admit that I’m concerned about the impact on prices and supply in a couple of years’ time post-Brexit, in whatever form it happens. We are inextricably linked to Europe as gas and electric are traded in Euros so we see prices rise and fall based on the exchange rate on a daily basis, and we import around 38 per cent of our gas and five per cent of our electricity from mainland Europe. Add to this the fact four of the ‘Big Six’ are owned by European companies and you can start to imagine how complex, and most likely more expensive, this will be to deal with in a post-Brexit world.
It’s a big ask but I’d like to see the political parties give some solid, and not just soundbite throwaways, policy proposals of what they will do in an industry that is central to all our lives.
Rob Cook, Business Development Manager at Utility Team