Energy Minister: We won’t leave keeping the lights on to free market economy

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom says Decc will resist any attempts to take Ofgem's powers
Energy minister Andrea Leadsom says supply security ‘too important to leave to free market’.

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom has denied that the government is micromanaging the UK energy industry. However, she said that the government would not leave the UK’s energy infrastructure entirely to the free market.

Speaking at the Energy Live News conference in London today, Leadsom was asked by former Energy UK boss David Porter whether setting a European price for carbon under which industry could make its own decisions might not be a better policy than “almost micromanaging” power sector investment.

Leadsom responded that the government was “committed to the reform of the EU ETS”, which has so far failed to provide sufficient market signals to decarbonise power generation. “We hope [the reformed trading scheme] will play a part in creating a level playing field,” she added.

As for micromanaging the market, Leadsom said it was “National Grid and Ofgem” that managed the market “so we [Decc] are not micromanaging electricity supply.”

However, she was unapologetic about what is perceived as a largely interventionist energy policy, albeit one that the Conservative government has inherited.

“I don’t think you will see the department of energy and climate change outsource it and [leave the market entirely to deliver solutions]. Keeping the lights on is far too important.”

Related stories:

Decc will ‘completely resist’ attempts by Europe to take powers from Ofgem

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