asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that the Northmet Power Company, Waltham Cross, has issued a notice to consumers that the hours during which a reduced rate operates for the peak load will be changed from the evening to the morning during the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the months of January, February and December; that this alteration will mean an increase of approximately 400 per cent. in the rate charged; on what grounds and under what powers this alteration has been made; and whether he will make inquiries into this matter with a view to continuing the present arrangements for firms doing war work?
Before the war the electricity peak load occurred in the evening hours; now it is during the morning hours from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. To encourage consumers to take power during non-peak hours the Northmet Power Company had instituted, before the war, reduced rates under their "limited service" tariff in respect of supplies taken outside the hours of the evening peak load. In view of the changed conditions arising from the war the Company have given notice that during December, January and February the rates will be reduced in respect of supplies taken outside the hours of the morning peak load. I see no reason to intervene in the action taken by the Company which I can only regard as helpful to the war effort.
Does not this change impose an extra expenditure on the part of firms who are doing war work through their having to pay an increased charge for electricity during the new period of the peak load whereas formerly by extending the work for an hour in the evening they escaped that charge?
I can appreciate that there will be increased cost in certain cases, but it is essential that the peak load should be kept down as much as possible, and I think that on balance the new period will work out more favourably.
But is it not the case that the balance works very unfairly towards a number of firms who must carry on their work in the hours to which the peak load period has been changed?