Energy and Climate Change is one of my main interests; one of my earliest memories is of the power cuts and blackouts in 1973.
Recently, as a country, we are using more energy and we have become more reliant on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. We use energy to communicate, to travel and for businesses. If our 'lights went out' the effects would be devastating to our economy and our way of life. That is why it is vitally important to take energy security seriously. And it is vital to act now.
Wholesale energy price continue to rise on the international market. Gas prices have increasing by over 57% in the past 5 years and nearly 300% in the past 10 years. So sensible action is needed to keep bills as low as possible as long as possible without damaging the vital investment that needs to be made in our energy infrastructure (pipes, pylons and power stations ignored by Labour) which comes with a price tag of £200billion. We must ensure the industry is able to invest otherwise it will end up as a bill footed by the taxpayer.
As part of the Energy Bill the Prime Minister has pledged to ensure that every consumer is put on the lowest price plan for their needs. The Government has also introduced smart metering allowing consumers to know exactly how and when they are consuming energy and where potential savings can be made. The 3rd Government measure to ensure household energy bills are kept low is the introduction of the Green Deal to ensure that homes are properly insulated and efficient cutting down our bills further. If you want more information on the Green Deal click here or write to me and I will send you a pack.
In the medium term we desperately need to start constructing more nuclear power stations. Our current fleet face decommission and far too many groups oppose the building of new stations. This is why I support the Governments recent announcement to build the first nuclear power station in this country for over 20 years. This deal will give enough electricity to support nearly 6 million homes, saving 9 million tonnes of CO2 and create 25,000 new jobs. Nuclear energy keep our lights on when the wind doesn't blow whilst helping us meet our carbon target. Nuclear is a home-grown source of electricity that is dependable and clean whilst reduces our dependence on imported gas.
If we diversify our energy imports then we will start to protect our security of supply in the short term. More importantly this will help reduce our exposure to international arm-twisting. This is elucidated – and ever more imperative - with the current diplomatic tensions with Iran and the possibility of closing the Strait of Hormuz. There are many potential trading partners in the world we can utilise to avoid us from being dependent on the few. Currently we import no energy from Central Asia, the South Caucasus and other areas of the world – many have large energy reserves. If we push for the Nabucco energy pipe-line then there will be an alternative for Eastern Europe to importing gas from the Russian Federation. The more countries we import energy resources from the more secure European energy supply will be.
In the immediate term we need to make energy use more efficient and the Government is pushing for this. People need to be aware of how much energy households use – and more importantly – how much energy people will save just by turning down the thermostat by a degree. There are many ways for people to save energy in the home. Energy usage can also be lowered by changing peoples' transport habits – trains, bicycles, car sharing, etc. The important thing is the less energy we use now the less we have to generate, which in turn, means less dependence on other countries or intermittent supplies. This could have the effect of lowering energy bills which will pull more residents of Tamworth, and the surrounding villages, out of fuel poverty. Not just at winter time, but all the time.
I am pleased to see that this Government is committed to diversifying its energy supply: we are maximising the number of stable countries from whom we import gas, oil and coal; investing more and more in various renewables; investing in nuclear power stations; exploring new technologies such as CCS, bio fuels and hydrogen. At the same time we are committed to promoting energy efficiency to reduce the overall fuel budget and encouraging the population to use less energy-intensive forms of transport.
Since being elected to the Energy and Climate Change committee I have been involved in many enquiries that have ranged from the electricity market reform and shale gas. I continue to be active in this Select Committee.