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Keeping the lights on

In an article written for the Telegraph last week, outgoing CEO of Ofgem, Alastair Buchanan, warned keeping Britain’s lights on will “come at a price”.

The story came a month before the closure of five coal-fired power stations which the Telegraph reported contribute nearly a sixth of the UK’s average electricity needs.

In his column, Telegraph journalist Christopher Booker said: “As I set out in my book, The Real Global Warming Disaster, in 2009, the writing was already on the wall in the government’s energy White Paper of 2003. Tony Blair signed us up to an energy policy centred on building thousands of windmills, already fully aware that we would be losing many of our coal-fired power stations due to an EU anti-pollution directive, and that we were unlikely to build any new nuclear power stations to replace those that by now would be nearing the end of their life.”

Booker went on to say this “made a nonsense of Mr Buchanan’s claim in a vacuous interview with Evan Davis, on Tuesday’s Today programme on Radio 4, that everything was fine with Britain’s “visionary” energy policy until we were hit by that “financial tsunami” in 2008. This prompted Davis to comment, “So we can blame the bankers for it, as we normally do”.”

Did the governments of the last 10 years, as Booker suggests, stake the nation’s future on “two utterly suicidal gambles”?

“First, they have fallen for the delusion that we can depend for nearly a third of our future power on those useless and unreliable windmills – which will require a dozen or more new gas-fired power stations just to provide back-up for when the wind is not blowing.Yet, at the same time, by devices such as the increasingly punitive “carbon tax” due to come into force on April 1, they plan to double the cost of the electricity we get from grown-up power stations, which can only have the effect in the coming years of doubling our electricity bills, driving millions more households into fuel poverty.”

It does make one wonder about the effectiveness of ‘regulators’. Are they, as one reader of the BBC News website said this week, simply a rubber stamp for all the utilities throw at us?

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