Governments backpedal on energy efficiency law

A large gulf in ambition between EU governments and MEPs over draft new national energy efficiency targets has become clear after a ministerial position on the draft EU end-use efficiency directive emerged in Brussels last week. Energy ministers will debate the draft later this month.

Under it member states would be asked to save 6% of their energy consumption within eight years of the directive's entry into force. The target would be indicative, whereas the European Commission proposed that it should be binding. It is also weaker than the EU executive's proposal for 1% annual savings from 2006-2012

. It is weaker still than the European parliament voted for in its first reading on the legislation last week. EU countries should achieve 11.5% savings over the nine years to 2015 - and be subject to prosecution in the European court of justice if they fail - MEPs said.

The council text rejects entirely the idea of setting differential and higher targets for public bodies, as proposed by the European Commission and supported by MEPs. Instead member states would have simply to "ensure that the public sector fulfils an exemplary role" in meeting the directive's aims.

The text insists that savings derived from investments in energy efficient equipment made as far back as 1991 should count towards the target. MEPs want an eligibility cut-off date of 2000.

Energy firms would not be required to meet quantitative targets to provide energy services or energy audits. They would have only to ensure these were "competitively priced". All customers should have access to energy audits, the draft says. A requirement for all customers to have energy meters would be made subject to the caveats "where technically possible, financially reasonable and proportionate to the potential energy savings."

Republished with permission of Environment Daily



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