LBC caller says he will ‘go hungry’ this winter as energy bills go up
Greg Jackson, Octopus Energy’s CEO, also said the UK needs to make the switch as soon as possible, claiming it is as “urgent” as Covid jabs as bills continue to soar. As gas prices continue to spiral out of control, Britain’s vulnerability to volatile international markets has been laid bare as the knock-on impacts are being well and truly felt by millions of households.
With the October price cap (annual maximum tariff) right around the corner – which industry regulator Ofgem has said will reach £3,549 – the Government has been urged to intervene immediately to avoid a catastrophic winter.
But while measures can be taken in the short term, such as targeted discounts, there are fears that the continued attachment to volatile gas prices could keep the UK in a crisis for years.
Mr Jackson has now urged the incoming Government to ramp up the UK’s homegrown clean energy supplies as soon as possible, which would have avoided household bills rising at the mercy of Russia.
He told the BBC that this green shift should be dealt with with the same urgency as the Covid vaccination programme.
Greg Jackson said bills could have been “billions of pounds lower”
The energy price cap will hit £3,549 in October
It comes after David Cameron’s coalition Government made a number of changes which involved slashing support for energy efficiency and ending subsidies for onshore wind.
Mr Jackson, whose company offers customers electricity created by renewable sources, claimed that if Britain had committed to delivering the transition at a quicker pace, the UK could have been paying billions of pounds less for energy than it is currently.
He told the Big Green Money Show on BBC Radio 5 Live: “If we hadn’t done that, energy bills this year would be billions of pounds lower than they are.
“It’s short-term behaviour that has left us even more exposed than we need to be.”
While rolling out more renewables is representative of a longer-term energy security strategy, he pleaded with the Government to get a move on.
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The UK has been left exposed to international gas markets
Mr Jackson said: “We now need to get on with it, and going green will not only help prevent the catastrophic climate change we see already changing weather patterns, but will also drive energy costs down.”
And to help accelerate the roll out, the Octopus boss said the process of creating new renewables could be made much faster, as planning consent and connection to the grid currently takes several years.
Meanwhile, he claims that engineering a new wind turbine could be done in just a year.
Mr Jackson said: “In the pandemic we took that normal fifteen-year process for producing and licensing a vaccine and we did it in a year.
“If we were to act with the same sense of urgency, we could let communities who want it have access to cheap energy quickly enough to make a difference.”
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Mr Jackson said the renewable switch should be as urgent as the Covid jab programme
But the incoming Prime Minister, which polls indicate is highly likely to be Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, may take a bit of convincing.
Despite bills rising exponentially in accordance with surging gas prices, Ms Truss wants to issue 130 licenses for oil and gas drilling in the North Sea.
Supporters say this will slash imports of foreign gas and in turn drive down bills.
But the gas market is integrated, meaning that while UK only got four percent of its gas from Russia last year- it was still exposed to international prices sent skyrocketing by supply cuts to Europe and the war in Ukraine.
Critics also say that any new gas would still be sold on the international market, while environmental campaigners have stressed the need to keep oil and gas in the ground regarding the urgency of the climate crisis.
Truss has pledged to scrap the green levy and does not like solar panels
Ms Truss has also pledged to temporarily scrap the green levy, which make up eight percent of dual fuel bills (just a fraction) and funds energy-efficiency measures.
Jess Ralston, an analyst from the Energy, Climate and Intelligence Unit, said that cheap solar and wind power funded through the Contracts for Difference green levy are stopping bills from soaring even higher.
She said: “They are actively helping to limit electricity price increases by reducing the need to import expensive gas from places like Russia and essentially funding Putin’s war.”
Ms Truss, as well as Mr Sunak, have also openly promoted an anti-solar panel stance.
The UK only got four percent of its gas from Russia last year
The Foreign Secretary told Tory members in Darlington: “I’m somebody who wants to see farmers producing food, not filling in forms, not doing red tape, not filling fields with paraphernalia like solar farms.”
But the Government has said it had delivered a 500 percent increase in renewables since 2010.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “Without the clean energy we have deployed over the past decade, bills would be even higher today.”