Shocking, but Ed has got it right
Thursday 26th September 2013, 4:00PM BST.
A PLEDGE by Ed Milliband – and the reaction to it – to freeze domestic electricity prices for two years should Labour win the next general election is revealing.
Firstly, the high and rising cost of energy in the UK (already significantly cheaper than it is here) is of intense consumer interest and clearly in the political arena.
Secondly, only a party desperate for votes would propose a course of action that handcuffs independent businesses and threatens to derail long term investment into critical infrastructure.
Both Guernsey Electricity and the regulator declined to comment yesterday on the concept of governments imposing price caps – and that is perhaps understandable given the sensitivity of the issue.
Yet security and cost of supply are matters that will become more pressing as time passes. The only certainty is that energy will become more expensive and probably significantly so.
In Guernsey’s case, new cable links with France have to be funded and on-island backup generators have to be maintained and updated at the same time as oil and imported electricity become more costly to reflect global demand.
When politicians do become involved it is generally to make things worse by imposing green taxes or premiums for renewables and those decisions are usually taken by individuals in comfortable homes with cash in the bank at the end of the month.
Many, however, are not so fortunate and recession, no pay rises and constantly rising electricity prices are hitting many Guernsey families.
At what stage will the Treasury minister, as people’s representative since government owns Guernsey Electricity, be urged to do a Milliband to help hard-pressed local families?
Electricity is as basic a need today as food, shelter and clothing and is only taken for granted because it is there when needed.
Look across to Sark or Alderney, however, and cost and reliability are both highly charged and political, even down to the threat of enforced ‘nationalisation’ in Sark.
Ed Milliband’s announcement may have been clumsy but his intuition that the price of power is a voter issue was spot on.