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Weekly column by EUA's Chief Executive Mike Foster

Last week I mentioned that I was addressing the UK LPG Annual Conference and I thought I would share a few comments I made to their delegates, based on the topic I was given to speak on "Consumers and politics; where does the power lie?"

To start, it is becoming increasingly clear that the new Government is going to concentrate on fewer areas of energy policy, given what policies they have scrapped or downgraded. That, in itself, is not a bad thing. Much better to do several things right than a dozen things half-heartedly or wrong. But one overriding consideration seems to be the consumer. Again, very sensible. The think-tank, Policy Exchange, who have close links to the new Government, recently published a report suggesting that consumers need to be heard more in the debate around energy policy. As part of their evidence, they cite statistics which show the public have a clear idea what they want Government to concentrate on when challenged on the energy trilemma, and this is not where the previous Coalition government were. Overwhelmingly, the public put affordability way above any environmental concerns. It is not rocket science to understand why that is, nor what might happen if politicians ignore the will of the people.

But I don't want to see combatting climate change disappear from the agenda, so policymakers need to make as subtle but sensible shift. Focussing effort on demand reduction helps reduce bills, the public's priority, whilst also reducing GHG emissions, our international obligation. Perhaps the time is ripe to consider new regulation for domestic buildings - incremental not draconian, something along the lines of the Boiler Plus approach, which requires advanced controls to be mandated when boilers are fitted? Replacing an old boiler, the infamous "Zombie boilers" with a new, high efficiency one saves between 10 and 30 per cent (depending upon use); advanced controls another 1 to 4 per cent. They may only be marginal gains, but as Dave Brailsford (Team GB's cycling guru) maintains, these marginal gains add up to bigger picture success.

Best wishes, 

Mike Foster CE

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