Alan Whitehead has branded the government-commissioned Helm review as an “unbelievably rushed job” that could “considerably” push up household bills if one of its key recommendations is implemented.
Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on the review, which took place on Tuesday, Labour’s shadow energy spokesman said the review of energy costs was an “extended opinion piece” by its author Professor Dieter Helm, who he said had used evidence selectively to justify his conclusions.
Whitehead said he supported some of Helm’s conclusions but raised concerns about his recommendation that industrial energy users should be exempt from paying the legacy costs of clean energy policies.
He said: “The bundle of legacy will reach back on consumers’ bills, in just the way that the social and environmental costs that appear on bills now are also borne by customers.
“Customers’ bills will go up considerably and not down considerably.”
Whitehead also slammed as “a recipe for extreme inefficiency”, Helm’s proposal that companies generating intermittent renewable energy should be forced to supply their own back up capacity.
He said: “The market would have a series of near-redundant back-up power stations”, adding that individual companies having to maintain this spare capacity would “probably substantially” increase the cost of energy. Under the current system shortfalls due to intermittent wind and solar generations are picked up by the wider market.
Claire Perry, minister of state for energy and climate change, defended the report which she said contained some “incredibly far-reaching recommendations”.
She said: “It is a no-holds-barred look at how we deliver more affordable energy, keep the lights on, decarbonise, create innovation and build relationships between the market and the public sector.”
Perry also said that she is a ‘proponent’ of gas in the future energy system because renewable energy “will not keep the lights on and give us the hot showers we want” without substantial improvements in storage capacity.