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Friday, 21 November 2014

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Union leader in call to plug Cumbria's power supply gap

A union leader has called for action to avoid the risk of a shortfall in power supply in Cumbria.

Alistair Buchanan photo
Ofgem boss Alistair Buchanan

The call followed yesterday’s warning from energy regulator Ofgem that consumers are likely to face increasing energy costs.

Garry Graham, the Prospect deputy general secretary who represents members working in nuclear decommissioning and energy supply, wants action to encourage investment in new energy infrastructure.

He said: “The warnings from Ofgem serve to underline the importance of the Government delivering a long term energy policy for the UK which ensures that supply meets demand.

“Ensuring capacity, security of supply and a long-term carbon reduction are the key principles that must underpin this policy.

“Prospect is committed to an appropriate energy mix for the UK, including gas and renewables, but it is undoubtedly the case that nuclear and nuclear new-build will be pivotal in underpinning our energy needs for the future.”

Mr Graham said the Government needed to be bold in providing assurances about nuclear power to encourage long-term investment. His comments came just weeks after Cumbria County Council’s cabinet decided against staying in the running for the chance to host a proposed underground storage facility for nuclear waste in the west of the county.

And yesterday Alistair Buchanan, the chief executive of industry regulator Ofgem, said that Britain’s fossil fuel energy supplies were heading downhill fast.

He warned consumers and businesses to prepare for price increases with the closure of power plants, reduced foreign gas supplies and an increased demand.

“We have to face the likelihood that avoiding power shortages will also carry a price,” he said.

“Within three years we will see reserve margin of generation fall from below 14 per cent to below five per cent – that is uncomfortably tight.”

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: “Our energy system faces significant challenges over coming years, including the closure of around one-fifth of our aging power stations.

“The reforms we are making to the electricity market through the Energy Bill and through our gas generation strategy are aimed at plugging this gap in order to keep the lights on.”

The spokesman added: “We are opening up the electricity market to incentivise a record £110bn of private sector investment in new clean power generation.

“We can’t put all our eggs in one basket, we need a diverse energy mix. This is the best solution to guard against high prices of wholesale gas which drives up consumer bills.”

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