Energy priorities

Independent, 10 April 1995:

To read the contribution from the chief executive of the Electricity Association (Letters, 1 April), one would think that the problem of global warming can be left safely in the hands of a privatised electricity supply industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. A reduction in carbon dioxide emissions has been achieved fortuitously by burning gas instead of coal, but this was done for commercial reasons and not for any environmental benefit. Market forces could easily change in the opposite direction over the coming decade.

It needs to be remembered that the industry was privatised without any commitment whatsoever to improve energy efficiency. Instead, the Government set up an Energy Savings Trust under the chairmanship of John Moore, with an initial budget of just £6m per annum and strong representation from both gas and electricity companies. Two schemes for saving energy have been blocked by the Gas Regulator, while the Electricity Regulator has allowed a ludicrously small expenditure for efficiency measures, of just £l per customer per year. These figures should be set against the combined profit of £l.24bn and £4.67bn for the gas and electricity companies respectively for the year 1994-95.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
London SE1