The Government published the Energy Bill on 10 January to implement the legislative aspects of last year's Energy White Paper. It is the Government's intention to obtain Royal Assent to the Bill by this summer.

The Energy Bill is just one of a number of pieces of energy-related legislation which the Government hopes to progress through Parliament this year. Others include the Planning Bill and the Climate Change Bill.

The Energy Bill provides for:

  • A licensing regime for the offshore importation and storage of combustible gases - it will become an offence to unload or store combustible gases in territorial waters or in (the newly created concept of) Gas Importation and Storage Zones, without a licence.
  • A similar licensing regime in respect of the storage of carbon dioxide - note the Energy Bill regime applies only to offshore storage. The Government will await developments at an EU level before progressing a legislative framework to govern onshore storage.
  • Amendments to those sections of the Electricity Act that govern the Renewables Obligation - these amendments are further explored in the Government's response to its Renewables Obligation Consultation. We are putting together an analysis on this, which will follow shortly.
  • Supplemental changes to the administration of the regulatory regime for offshore electricity transmission - the primary legislation for this regime was established under the Energy Act 2004, and provides for system operation by National Grid Electricity Transmission and transmission ownership by a separate entity. The Energy Bill proposes supplementary provisions to allow Ofgem to recover its costs in running the tenders for asset ownership and to allow for property transfer schemes in respect of existing projects.
  • Nuclear decommissioning requirements - requirements that developers of new nuclear power stations must ensure they have adequate funding to meet the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs. See also our previous alert on the government announcement on the future of nuclear power.
  • Offshore decommissioning requirements - amendment to the current regimes for decommissioning offshore renewables, gas and oil projects.
  • Miscellaneous housekeeping matters - such as the transfer from Ofgem to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform of responsibility for gas meter testing and electricity meter accuracy.