10:50am Friday 18th May 2012
By Tina Robins
ENGERY secretary Ed Davey was given a grilling in Malmesbury this week by local renewable energy firms worried that government reforms could put small suppliers out of business.
The minister was warned the proposals set out in the government’s white paper and mentioned in the Queen’s Speech last week could lead to higher prices for customers and make it more difficult for renewables firms to attract investment.
“They just bombarded him with questions because they are very concerned about their industry,” Lib Dem Wiltshire Councillor Simon Killane told the Standard. “They gave him a good grilling.”
Ed Gill, head of external affairs at Chippenham-based Good Energy was one of those who welcomed the chance to question the minister face to face.
The company is one of several high profile firms, including Ecotricity and Scottish and Southern Energy, that have slammed the proposals to bring scrap current subsidies and bring in longer term contracts for suppliers.
“He certainly took the time to listen to the concerns that we had,” he said. The reforms had generated a huge amount of anxiety in the industry and people wanted to express those fears directly.
“The reforms are geared towards large centralised power suppliers.”
But as planning and health had been decentralised under localism, the same should follow for renewable energy supply.
Several solar farms were installed near Malmesbury before subsidies dropped last year , including one on a former airfield at Long Newnton.
Firms fear the long-term “contracts for difference” to supply power at an agreed price will deter investment in renewables and will benefit nuclear suppliers instead. Keith MacLean, head of policy at Scottish and Southern Energy dubbed them unworkable.
Mr Davey was invited to dinner by Lib Dems in Malmesbury several months ago before he took over the ministerial role from Chris Huhne. But it wasn’t until Saturday that he was able to honour the commitment.
Cllr Killane said the group decided to throw open the event to local people, businesses and students.
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