Business

Energy rationing is never acceptable

Britain’s Work and Pensions Secretary, Mel Strayed, spoke for many among our green elites earlier this month when he said the Stop the Oil protesters had a point. He disapproves of their tactics – of disrupting traffic and emergency services. But it is consistent with their broader goals. He told Sky News: “We are all determined, and this government above all else is absolutely determined to put pressure on the use of fossil fuels.” Of course, what Stride has left out is that “pressure” on fossil fuels inevitably means pressure on the public’s energy use.

The government confirmed this week that reducing energy use will be one of its priorities. And she’s planning a public information campaign to convince us to cut our energy use by a whopping 15 percent. The stated aim is to save £400 per family per year amid the energy crisis.

Read:People with British Gas, Octopus, EDF and E.On are being paid not to use electricity

Of course, if the government’s priority is simply to help households with soaring energy bills, there are many other things it could do. It could accelerate North Sea gas exploration and the reopening of a crude gas storage facility off the east coast of England. It could allow shale gas to fracturing on the ground. It can agree to long-term contracts for imported gas, instead of making short-term deals that currently lead us to spend exorbitant amounts of gas imports. The government can also install advanced “HVDC” (High Voltage Direct Current) cables, which enable transmission of power over long distances at high power levels. It could liberalize our planning laws to encourage builders to erect hundreds of thousands of new, well-insulated houses as soon as possible, in order to replace our old and weary stock of housing.

Each of these steps will help consumers pay their central heating and electricity bills. But the government, backed by green thinking, is not particularly interested in securing our energy supply. Instead, it wants to manage our energy demand. This is why it calls on families to start reducing their consumption.

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Exact details of the campaign will be revealed by Business Secretary Grant Shapps before Christmas. Judging by past campaigns and similar initiatives abroad, we will likely be required to wash and dry our clothes at night, when electricity rates drop. Lower the thermostat. Change the way you cook. Draw the curtains to keep the cold out. Turn off the lights as much as possible. Stay in bed with an extra duvet or put on another jacket. and so on.

All these “innovations” date back to the 70s. In fact, in 1973 a campaign by the then Conservative government’s Central Information Office launched a special “SOS” – which stood for “Switch Off Something”. That winter, a historic energy crisis and a miners’ strike forced Britain to work three days a week. In response, Prime Minister Edward Heath created the Department of Energy. Soon the first Secretary of Energy, Patrick Jenkin, advised the British that in order to save electricity, they should “clean up” [their] teeth in the dark. For this Jenkin was ridiculed, and the unfortunate advice became a symbol of the Conservatives’ broader failures in energy policy. In February 1974, the Conservative Party lost the general election. It was a slip, like financial times The late Lord Jenkin, he writes, “never lived quite.”

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But what was a misstep then is taken as conventional wisdom now. Today from the Conservative Party The Daily Telegraph To fu against incorporation private eye, they all agree that conserving energy on your own is the way to go. It is often noted that in our universities today, the atmosphere of self-censorship can be as stifling as any official restrictions on freedom of expression. In the same way, rather than enforcing energy rationing from the top down, the government would rather encourage consumers to make the cuts themselves.

From this perspective, today’s high energy prices are indeed welcome, as they encourage us to frugality. As a government source said Sunday times“Britain’s good citizens will have to rise to the challenge. They have a great market incentive, which is higher prices. Many green zealots go further. They argue that today’s high gas prices simply reflect the real social cost of fossil fuels. But whatever it is The reason is, when the government ends up thinking along the lines of Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil, we should all be worried.

Of course, British households are free to conserve energy if they wish, if they want to keep bills down. But for the government to launch a campaign to reduce energy use is another matter entirely. It is a sign that they have failed in their responsibility to ensure an affordable and reliable energy supply. Instead of listening to the government’s lectures, we should challenge it to do its job properly.

James Woodheson He is Visiting Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at London South Bank University.

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