Brexit would cause 'electric shock' for energy costs, warns Amber Rudd
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has today (24 March) warned that leaving the European Union would see energy costs 'rocket' by £500m as well as depleting investor confidence.
Addressing employees at an energy interconnector site in Kent – chosen to highlight Britain’s relationship and interdependence with the EU – Rudd said the EU had been instrumental in keeping energy bills low, and that it was necessary to ‘work with our neighbours to deliver energy security in the future’.
“The UK’s membership of the European Union has helped keep our energy bills down,” Rudd said. “If we left the European Internal Market, we’d get a massive electric shock because UK energy costs are likely to rocket by at least half a billion pounds a year – the equivalent of British bills going up by around one and a half million pounds each and every day.
“By 2030, even if we develop the potential of UK shale gas, we are expected to import about three quarters of our gas. In other words, we will have to continue to work with our closest neighbours to deliver energy security in the future. An internal energy market helps to guarantee our energy security, which is the bedrock of our economic security. I’m not willing to play fast and loose with either.”
Referring to a National Grid report which stated that a potential ‘Brexit’ would cost consumers £500m annually, Rudd also revealed how investment in UK energy infrastructure and systems from other countries within Europe had amounted to £45bn.
“Being in the EU helps us attract billions and billions of pounds of investment in our energy system and supply chain,” Rudd said. “Taken together, this investment helps support 660,000 jobs in the UK’s energy sector. Does anybody really think all of that investment would continue if we left the EU, and with no extra costs?
“In the race for investment, why would we shoot ourselves in the foot by creating this uncertainty? Working people will ultimately pay the price for this with fewer jobs and higher prices. That is not a price I am willing to pay.”
Was great to visit @StrongerIn today and meet the team. I'm clear that we are stronger, safer and better off inside the EU.— Amber Rudd MP (@AmberRudd_MP) March 21, 2016
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Rudd’s anti-Brexit stance has been echoed in recent weeks by energy and environment ministers and edie readers. Energy Minister Matthew Hancock has given his support for remaining in a 'reformed' EU, stating that "in a turbulent and uncertain world, we should not add to those risks to our economic security with years of uncertainty".
Within the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), Environment Secretary Liz Truss has also backed the calls to remain in the EU, citing global market uncertainty – especially for farmers – as a reason why Britain shouldn’t "leap into the dark".
High-level environment experts have also warned of the damage that leaving the EU could cause to Britain’s environment and energy security, with engineering and manufacturing industry body EEF’s senior energy policy advisor Richard Warren stating: “Uncertainty on a number of levels is already rife in the UK’s energy sector and this is already having a negative impact on infrastructure costs.
"A decision to leave the EU would simply compound this problem, pushing up the rates of return investors are seeking which ultimately the energy consumer must pay for.”
Prime Minister David Cameron recently confirmed that the 'IN'/'OUT' referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU will take place on 23 June, 2016.