Businesses slam politicians over blackout threat despite years of energy shortage warnings

 
Caitlin Morrison
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Government blames lack of infrastructure investment under Labour
Business groups have slammed politicians for failing to take action on energy supply shortages, despite 15 years of warning signs.

The National Grid warned yesterday that spare electricity capacity would be at a seven-year low this winter due to a mixture of planned generator closures and breakdowns, without enough new plants to make up the shortfall. Spare capacity will be close to four per cent, compared with around five per cent last year and 17 per cent three years ago.

Dan Lewis, energy policy adviser at the Institute of Directors, commented: “This has been in the offing for 15 years, and it really didn’t need to happen.” He called on the government to “start thinking hard about how to find renewable energy we can realistically integrate at a reasonable rate”. He added that current government targets were out of kilter. “If you add up the plants being closed down and then the newly constructed power plants, we have a net loss of 12 gigawatts,” he stated.

Adam Marshall, ­­a director at the British Cham­bers of Commerce, said the prospect of energy shortages was “simply unacceptable”, adding: “For too long, the UK has failed to plan adequately to guarantee the energy supplies required for our economy… and consumers.”

An energy department source told City A.M.: “Labour simply didn’t invest in the energy infrastructure we need. Under Labour, the energy system was creaking but we’re turning that around with £100bn investment and more than enough reserves this winter.”

Energy minister Matt Hancock pointed to past failures, stating that the government was “working through a long-term plan to turn around a legacy of underinvestment” adding: “We have given National Grid new tools they need to meet energy demand this winter.”

Preparations being put in place include plans to incentivise businesses to reduce energy demand. Lewis commented: “Now they are actually proposing to pay people not to work. It’s the last thing the economy needs.”

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