Last week the British government published draft legislation for its overhaul of the electricity market. The plan's stated aim is to make UK energy more predictable and stable.
Unfortunately the proposals are not based on what industry and domestic consumers actually need, but on taxing carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuel.
For this reason they are unlikely to achieve anything useful.
There is a precedent for this situation. Thirty years ago US president Jimmy Carter introduced a similar energy policy. It included 100 legislative initiatives designed to reduce energy imports, encourage conservation and renewables and impose taxes so that oil producers would not benefit from a rise in world prices.
Mr. Carter promoted renewables heavily. He had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. He backed gasohol and called for the creation of an energy security corporation financed by $5 billion of energy bonds and a "solar bank."
He pushed these measures in a PR campaign. In 1977 he made three television addresses on the subject and many others in public. But the more he talked about energy, the lower his poll ratings went. It was a disaster. Convincing Americans that there was an energy crisis, when there wasn't, was impossible.
By 1979, Americans no longer believed their president's warnings about future energy shortages, though they did suspect that his policies had helped double the price of fuel in four years. He was not re-elected, and the solar panels were removed.
To understand why the UK economy is struggling, look no further than its energy policy.
There is not a world shortage of energy. Gas is more plentiful than ever before. But in Europe, and the UK, we are still investing in technologies which cannot supply the energy we need at an affordable price.
The British public is now being told that it must pay more for its energy in order to protect it from price rises.
With statements like this coming from people who are supposed to be in charge, no wonder we have problems.
ND, habitat21, 30 May 12
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