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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Helm hits back at energy review’s ‘vested interest’ critics

Professor Dieter Helm has hit back at critics of his recently published energy costs review by accusing them of being 'vested interests'.

Giving evidence at a one-off session of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee, which was held to discuss the government-commissioned review, its author Professor Helm said that widespread reform was required to effectively tackle bills.

He said: "The beneficiaries of the high cost of energy are lots and lots of vested interests so I'm not surprised that each particular vested interest doesn't like a particular bit of the report that will attack the economic rents that they get.

"Change is expensive and they want to keep the bits that give them high economic rents but not the bits that attack the benefits they have got. We can't just tinker."

Dieter Helm

He also "completely rejected" the suggestion that his review was insufficiently grounded in empirical evidence about the energy market.

And he defended the review against criticisms that it had given insufficient weight to how energy policy can support innovative renewable technologies, by pointing out that research and development was not covered by the terms of reference he had been set by the BEIS department.

Helm said that he accepted that UK government had helped to develop expertise in offshore wind power. "Offshore wind would not have got where it is without government support."

But he said that he would have devoted £1bn of the 'tens of billions', which had been spent on offshore wind subsidies, to support a carbon capture storage demonstration project on the grounds that the UK had a competitive advantage in developing this technology due to its legacy of empty oil and gas wells in the North Sea.

Read the full story at Utility Week