LBC caller says he’ll ‘be hungry’ this winter as energy bills rise
Greg Jackson, CEO of Octopus Energy, also said the UK needed to make the switch as soon as possible, saying it was as “urgent” as Covid bites as bills continue to soar. As gas prices continue to spin out of control, Britain’s vulnerability to international market volatility has been laid bare as the repercussions are well and truly felt by millions of households.
With the October price cap (maximum annual tariff) fast approaching – which industry regulator Ofgem says will reach £3,549 – the government has been told to intervene immediately to avert a catastrophic winter.
But while action can be taken in the short term, such as targeted rebates, there are fears that the continued attachment to volatile gas prices could keep the UK in crisis for years.
Mr Jackson has now urged the new government to increase the UK’s clean energy supply as soon as possible, which would have avoided household bills rising at Russia’s mercy.
He told the BBC this green shift should be treated with the same urgency as the Covid vaccination programme.
Greg Jackson said the bills could have been ‘several billion pounds lower’ (Image: Getty)
Energy price cap to hit £3,549 in October (Picture: Express)
It comes after David Cameron’s coalition government made a number of changes which included drastically reducing support for energy efficiency and ending subsidies for onshore wind.
Mr Jackson, whose company offers customers electricity created from renewable sources, claimed that if Britain had committed to accelerating the transition, the UK could have paid billions of pounds less for energy than it currently does.
He told the Big Green Money Show on BBC Radio 5 Live: “If we hadn’t done this, energy bills this year would be billions of pounds lower than they are.
“It’s a short-term behavior that has left us even more exposed than we should be.”
While deploying more renewables is representative of a longer-term energy security strategy, he pleaded with the government to move on.
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The UK remains exposed to international gas markets (Picture: Express)
Mr Jackson said: “Now we need to move on, and going green will not only help prevent the catastrophic climate change that we are already seeing changing weather patterns, but will also lower energy costs.”
And to help speed up rollout, the Octopus boss said the process of creating new renewables could be much faster, as planning consent and grid connection currently takes several years.
Meanwhile, he claims that the engineering of a new wind turbine could be completed in just one year.
Mr Jackson said: “During the pandemic, we went through this normal fifteen-year process to produce and license a vaccine and we did it in a year.
“If we were to act with the same sense of urgency, we could enable communities that want it to have access to cheap energy fast enough to make a difference.”
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Mr Jackson said renewable change should be as urgent as the Covid Jab program (Picture: Express)
But the new prime minister, who polls are most likely to be Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, could take some time to convince.
Despite bills rising exponentially due to soaring gas prices, Ms Truss wants to issue 130 oil and gas drilling licenses in the North Sea.
Proponents say this will reduce imports of foreign gas and, in turn, reduce bills.
But the gas market is integrated, meaning that while the UK only got 4% of its gas from Russia last year, it was still exposed to international prices which soared due to supply cuts to Europe and the war in Ukraine.
Critics also say any new gas would still be sold on the international market, while environmental campaigners have stressed the need to keep oil and gas in the ground in the face of the urgency of the climate crisis.
Truss has pledged to scrap the green levy and doesn’t like solar panels (Image: Getty)
Ms Truss has also pledged to temporarily scrap the green tax, which accounts for 8% of dual fuel bills (just a fraction) and funds energy efficiency measures.
Jess Ralston, an analyst with the Energy, Climate and Intelligence Unit, said cheap solar and wind power funded by the Contracts-for-Difference green levy keeps bills from rising even higher.
She said: “They are actively helping to limit electricity price hikes by reducing the need to import expensive gas from places like Russia and essentially funding Putin’s war.”
Ms. Truss, as well as Mr. Sunak, have also openly promoted an anti-solar panel stance.
The UK only got 4% of its gas from Russia last year (Picture: Express)
The Foreign Secretary told Tory members of Darlington: ‘I am someone who wants to see farmers producing food, not filling in forms, not doing paperwork, not filling fields with props like solar farms.”
But the government said it had provided a 500% increase in renewable energy since 2010.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “Without the clean energy we’ve deployed over the past decade, bills would be even higher today.”
. boss dOctopus Energy declares UK missed chance reduce the bills billion books Science News