On 25th May the Government's plans for the next Parliament were outlined in the Queen's speech. Although the speech clearly focused on reducing the national deficit and continued economic recovery, there were 24 Bills announced in total. Among them is the Energy Security and Green Economy Bill. The aim of this Bill is to deliver a national programme to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses. The promotion of low carbon energy production will also be a key priority, along with improving the security of energy supplies. It is hoped that such legislation will provide everyone with greater access to energy efficiency measures so that both domestic customers and businesses can reduce their energy bills and also their carbon footprint.
The key elements of the proposed Bill are as follows:
- creation of a "Green Deal" to deliver energy efficiency to homes and businesses. This would include implementing a framework of "pay as you save" incentives for homes and businesses, whereby low-interest loans are given to pay for energy efficiency and low-carbon improvements;
- increased regulation of carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations - it is expected that this will have the effect of preventing the construction of new coal-fired power stations unless they involve carbon capture and storage technology to reduce emissions;
- developing a "smart grid" electricity transmission system to improve the management of supply and demand for electricity;
- requiring energy companies to provide their customers with more information on utility bills in order to ensure that consumers are kept fully informed of how their payments are constituted;
- widening the availability of and access to North Sea infrastructure so as to facilitate the exploitation of oil and gas fields; and
- the creation of a Green Investment Bank with the aim of providing greater support to low carbon projects.
It is thought that most of the provisions of the proposed Bill will apply to Scotland, England and Wales, although it may be the case that certain matters are devolved.
A full list of the Bills contained in the Queen's speech can be found on the official site of the Prime Minister's Office.