UK climate goals to lift energy bills 10 percent: adviser

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2011 7:18 PM
UK climate goals to lift energy bills 10 percent: adviser

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's low-carbon goals could increase household energy bills by 10 percent out to 2020, although costs need not rise if homeowners are encouraged to use heating controls and more efficient appliances and lighting, a UK government adviser said.

In a report, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said its best estimate showed the government's low-carbon policies will add 110 pounds to average household energy bills in 2020, compared with an average bill of 1,060 pounds ($1,700) in 2010.

Under a scenario with only "limited success" in achieving existing energy efficiency measures, however, bills could rise by nearly 20 percent.

"If we introduce new policies to stimulate energy efficiency improvement, then bills in 2020 could broadly be contained at current levels," said Adair Turner, chair of the CCC.

The CCC, which reports to the UK Parliament on the government's progress in reducing emissions, Thursday published its first blanket analysis of how the government's climate policy could affect household energy bills.

"The Committee's findings disprove often repeated claims that recent bill increases are due to environmental policy costs and that major investments in low-carbon power capacity will drive dramatic bill increases over the next decade - as high as 3,000 pounds," it said in a statement.

Some 84 percent of UK households have dual-fuel energy bills, meaning they generally use gas for heating rather than electricity. This makes their energy bills vulnerable to spikes in wholesale gas prices, as was the case between 2004 and 2010.

But future energy costs could be offset by tougher measures to improve energy efficiency for homes using both gas and electricity, according to CCC.

Insulation and more efficient use of heating controls could curb gas consumption by around 8 percent, while the replacement of lights and appliances with the most efficient models could cut electricity consumption by 19 percent, it said.

The UK has one of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, with a 2050 goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels. It has set legally binding targets for four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets.

($1 = 0.6402 British pounds)

(Reporting by Jeff Coelho, editing by Jane Baird)