Electricity Generation: Local Suppliers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:32 pm on 14th October 2020.

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Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 7:32 pm, 14th October 2020

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker; I was going to make very much the same point. I congratulate Ben Lake on securing today’s debate, and I will make the same point: I have never seen an Adjournment debate with so many interventions. They were all extremely gracefully and graciously accommodated in his speech, so many congratulations to him.

The hon. Member has spoken eloquently about the need for local communities to be able to supply electricity, and I think there are strong arguments in its favour. I know that similar views have been expressed to me and the Department by many Members. I am fully aware that my hon. Friend Peter Aldous has also done his bit to try to drive the issue of local supply up the agenda.

I know that the hon. Member for Ceredigion supports a campaign for electricity generators to sell directly to local consumers, for all the benefits he suggested in terms of local employment. I think he or one of the many intervenors used the phrase “local buy-in”, and those arguments are fully appreciated.

In my remarks today, I will address the matter in quite a technical way and give the specific reasons why we as a Government feel that this particular provision is not something that we would adopt, but I suggest to him that local community participation has to be on the agenda. It is certainly something that I as the Energy Minister will be willing to engage with and have a discussion about.

With regard to the licensing—we will talk a little bit about that—changing the licensing framework to suit the business models identified by his campaign appears attractive, but the danger—and we always have to be mindful of dangers in government—is that it would create wider distortions elsewhere in the energy system. I will talk to those directly. Instead of the hon. Gentleman’s proposal, I would urge stakeholders and hon. and right hon. Members across the House to engage with the ongoing work that the Government are undertaking with Ofgem to support flexibility and innovation more generally. Then perhaps we can come to a view about how the local element can play its part in the solution.