Plaid is right to call on the Welsh Government to pull its finger out when it comes to ending the injustice in the energy sector. The big six energy cartel members are busy ramping up fat profits while they can and successive Westminster Government’s have quietly looked the other way. We have excessive profiteering on the part of the energy companies, while Welsh consumers pay around 5-10% more for their energy than anywhere elsewhere in the UK due to a combination of poorer energy infrastructure, the effective demise of competition in the nominal free market, and older housing stock.
I can see no good reason why the energy market in Wales should not be regulated in here in Wales - we would be hard pressed to make it any worse. Energy wise things have not been helped by the Labour in Wales Government (in Cardiff) which shows no signs of stirring from its s elf-induced lethargy to do anything significant about developing the energy sector. They have done little save to bleat occasionally about excessive on-shore wind-farm development and the lack of any real planning input in the process due to the 50 MW (onshore) and 1 MW (off-shore) rule, something that ironically is their fault.
We need not be in this situation, if the party formerly known as New Labour and the Conservatives had actually honoured their Welsh general election manifesto promise in 2011 to increase the 1 MW limit for off-shore and 50 MW for on-shore threshold for planning for energy project. This failure effectively prevents the development of realistic community beneficial energy schemes, some of which may be over the threshold, so they have to be decided on in Westminster rather than in Wales, and since when has Westminster seriously had any time for Wales?
Back in January (2012) Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards called for energy powers to be transferred to the Welsh Government; his bill would have given the Welsh Government powers over energy generation in Wales. The bill, which was blocked by Labour and Conservative MPs (and defeated by 239 votes to 44), would have ensured equality with Scotland and Northern Ireland and would have meant that Wales would have been better placed to fight fuel poverty with responsibility for our own resources.
Last week Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas AM outlined what he saw as excessive profits by energy companies. He called for the Welsh Government to work towards the devolution of energy policy so that it can protect the people of Wales form unjust practices.
The Party of Wales Mid and West Wales AM Simon Thomas said:
“As winter approaches, families are finding it more difficult than ever to pay for their heating bills, yet energy companies are reporting enormous profits. We cannot protect Welsh consumers from price rises without obtaining further energy powers and the ability to regulate the energy market in Wales.
“It is clear that something needs to be done. It isn’t fair that Welsh consumers pay 5 or 10 per cent more for their energy than other UK regions. We have heard allegations of price fixing at a time when figures also show that there are thousands of excess winter death each year. If energy companies are found to have been price-fixing then there will be serious questions for them to answer about those excess deaths.
“The Party of Wales is convinced that the devolution of powers over energy is the only way to protect Welsh customers from the unfair practices in the energy market.
“But we also want the Welsh Government to use the powers it already has to help more people. Through extending the Arbed scheme we could help more families bring down their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient – this could have a huge effect on their bills. Heating bills are one of the biggest worries that Welsh families are facing this winter, and a Party of Wales Government would do much more to help them.”
A pressing question remains, whether or not Carwyn Jones will actually trying to do something or anything about trying to develop our countries energy potential over the remaining years of their term in office? I suspect that the answer is going to be a resounding no! Sadly I suspect that he and his Labour in Wales government will sit quietly and do nothing merely waiting for the Westminster cycle to run its course and duly (they hope) return a Labour in Westminster Government – what a waste of time and (admittedly limited) opportunities.