Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Power cuts and costs

Mrs Rigby was wandering through the Guardian today, and noticed a couple of interesting articles.

Apparently UK only has storage for a few hours worth of gas,

The UK could run out of gas within six hours this winter, the Observer has learned. The revelation has sparked a row between the Conservatives and Labour over who is doing more to keep the heating on. Last winter, the UK was left with only three days of reserves when foreign energy companies started exporting gas to supply their European customers after Russia cut supplies that used a pipeline through Ukraine.

A spokeswoman for Ed Miliband's energy and climate change department said that under a civil contingency act he had the power to halt exports from the UK if the Queen had signed the order.

So it's the Tories fault - but Mrs Rigby would be interested to know who has been responsible for demolishing all the gasometers. She'd heard they were got rid of because they were a health hazard and a possible target for terrorists.

She's a little bemused by mention of the Civil Contingency Act though, and wonders if not enough gas coming through the pipeline from Russia is really enough to declare a state of emergency.

The Guardian has uncovered 'secret' plans to make those of us who have fuel bills pay an additional tariff tax to fund construction of nuclear power plants. Not very secret now, is it?

The government believes that only by artificially increasing the cost of electricity generated by coal and gas stations through an additional carbon levy on household bills can nuclear become more competitive and encourage new reactors to be built.

One European utility executive told the Guardian: "New nuclear will not happen without sorting out the carbon price." The Guardian understands that the Office of Nuclear Development (OND), set up by Lord Mandelson's business department, has promised nuclear companies that the price of carbon under the EU emissions trading scheme – now about €13 per tonne – will not be allowed to fall below €30 per tonne, and ideally €40. According to the energy consultancy firm EIC, the new carbon levy would add £44 to the £500 annual electricity bill paid by an average household.

Mrs R notices the dreaded C-for-Carbon word again. This Carbon is obviously terribly expensive stuff. She wonders if she can buy some in a shop, or if it's only big governments who can buy and sell it whilst the rest of us pay the bills, with new taxes piled on top of old taxes until we haven't a clue what's going on.

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