Hugh is one of Huddersfield’s most knowledgeable and experienced workers for sustainable energy. He spoke about:
- Labour’s positive record on the environment and fuel poverty
- How smart meters will cut our fuel bills
- How an energy efficiency programme will remove fuel poverty and save the NHS millions
Hugh is a former Energy Coordinator for SERA, Labour's Environment Movement. He is proud of Labour's record on environment and fuel poverty between 1997 and 2010.The Labour government:
- introduced the Climate Change Act,
- rolled out the Decent Homes Programme, upgrading 95% of all social housing,
- introduced levies on the energy companies to fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes.
In contrast, the Tory/LibDem government has cut spending on energy efficiency programmes by two thirds, and the UK is at risk of losing its valuable reputation as one of the global leaders on climate change.
Hugh is now a director of environmental behaviour change charity, Global Action Plan. The charity is working towards specific changes which will have massive impact.
Hugh welcomed the roll out of ‘smart meters’ for all households from 2015. He argues that it has to be done in a way that recognises people’s day-to-day experience . At home we perceive our energy use as light, heat, sound, and power for indoor and outdoor equipment. We don’t tot up kilowatts or pounds.
But – using smart meters is a new and powerful way for all of us to understand and control what we use and what we pay - we can save ourselves a lot of money. For example, in the USA , when people have been able to control their own costs, they can save up to 10% of their daily energy use. Good for the bills of hard pressed households, good for the economy and good for the national and global environment.
When ordinary people use less energy, then the energy companies generate less energy which in turn lowers the costs of expensive upgrading to the national grid and the energy transportation network.
Hugh argued that a Labour government should encourage consumers’ focus on their own energy use and costs in the following ways:
- rolling out smart meters, organised area by area
- removing control from energy suppliers
- making “ real-time” household energy usage data accessible by bodies who represent consumers, not just energy companies
- placing a cap on the amount of electricity and gas that energy companies can sell before they are fined
Ending Fuel poverty
Lastly, Hugh spoke about how we will benefit from Labour's energy efficiency policies.
Recently the Right 2 Fuel Campaign, which Hugh chairs, published a paper setting out the case for a national household energy efficiency programme.
The VAT receipts alone from the programme would mean that the scheme pays for itself if funded by UK taxpayers. The benefits of the programme include removing all households from fuel poverty, saving the NHS 42 pence for every £1 spent and creating 100,000 local jobs per year.
Labour should be ambitious in this policy and use the levy on energy companies to start the programme. Low income households will be given free energy efficiency upgrades and households who can afford to pay will be offered cheap loans. Between 2016 and 2025 every household in the country would be visited and receive their energy saving makeover.