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Union warns against complacency on margins

Union accuses former head of National Grid of complacency on energy margins

Steve Holliday, the former head of National Grid, is being complacent in his assertion that the UK has enough energy capacity – even on the coldest days when demand is highest.



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Prospect, the largest union for engineers and specialists in the energy sector, warned that the ‘make do and mend’ approach to UK energy policy is not fit for our economic needs now or in the future.

Prospect deputy general secretary Dai Hudd said: “While Steve Holliday is a highly-respected spokesperson on energy matters, we think he is too optimistic about the challenges facing the industry.

“At present, our energy policy is based on a precarious mix of old gas and coal plants, which would otherwise be scrapped, and firms being encouraged to reduce their energy consumption.

“This will not encourage the innovation needed for affordable energy that the Prime Minister promised in her new industrial strategy just last week.”

Prospect has long called for investment in reliable and sustainable baseload generation as part of a balanced energy mix. But the government must:

  • create the right conditions, including public investment, to support new generating capacity and the development of new technologies
  • plug the skills gaps in key parts of the industry.

“Over-relying on the market and market regulations has led to tightened margins and increased costs for consumers.

“This industry requires significant forward planning and funding, before any power is delivered. So, in this context, we believe that Steve Holliday’s comments show an unwelcome level of complacency.

“The public’s reaction to the problems with Southern Rail show that people will not tolerate politicians being absolved from responsibility for services – even when they are heavily regulated and in private sector hands.

“Current policies rely almost exclusively on private sector solutions. But this will have to change if we are going to guarantee future energy supplies,” concluded Hudd.

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