MPs need to stop consumers being mugged

4th Apr 2022

 

Just over two hundred years ago, gas lights were being fitted along Westminster Bridge (as one industry leader said last week, ‘to stop MPs from being mugged’).

Today our industry stands ready to deliver heat, hot water and cooking, if not light, for the next two centuries. The decision of whether it does or not is again being made in Westminster.

As part of their Energy Ten-Point Plan and Hydrogen Strategy, the Government indicated that a strategic decision on the future of the gas networks would be made in 2026. The choice for heating, hot water, and cooking comes down to using electrons, molecules, or a combination of both.

In terms of electrons, the Government has indicated a direction of travel for heat pumps, setting an ambitious target of 600,000 installations a year by 2028. Even if installers had eight hands, I doubt they can hit that target. But setting aside the need for an Octo-installer, financially can this target be met by consumers already struggling to pay their bills?

Heat pumps are a premium-priced product, they reduce carbon compared to a natural gas boiler, but they do so at a price. Just as an EV is more expensive than a diesel car, some people will pay more for going green. To suggest that a heat pump is a lower cost option compared to a gas boiler is simply wrong. We have conducted a series of capital investment appraisals, on a range of different scenarios, and even with a high performing heat pump, including the £5000 subsidy and the recent VAT reduction, heat pumps are still not a financially rational decision to make for consumers. They may still buy one for the carbon savings, but people shouldn’t if it is a strictly financial decision.

Why is this important? With energy bills at unprecedented levels, the cost of living crisis is hurting people. They, understandably, are looking for some help. If they are misled into believing a heat pump will make them better off, then MPs need to step in. Gas lights in Westminster stopped MPs being mugged, now is the time for MPs to acknowledge the gas industry is there to stop consumers being mugged.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CEO

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive

 

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