British Conservatives win

Unappreciated by most Americans so far, the Conservative Party’s running the table in the latest U.K. general election was an underlying wave of public support for Prime Minister David Cameron and his party’s pledge to go “all out for shale gas.”  With U.K. residential consumers in 2014 hit with +$26 higher monthly electric bills to subsidize renewables and the nation’s energy grid on the verge of rolling blackouts, the British public rebelled against the Labour Party going all out for its climate-change agenda.  

The shock and awe of the Conservatives winning 43 percent more seats than the Labour Party has dumbfounded the media.  But the election saw Ed Davey, the U.K.'s energy secretary and a Liberal Democrat Party leader, lose his seat in parliament to Conservative rival James Berry after Davey campaigned on a platform of “Keep Britain Green.”  Davey wanted to expand the Green Investment Bank that he set up to invest public money into renewable projects; Berry won by promising to end it.

The most recent U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change “Public Attitude Tracker,” released on April 28, revealed that “[t]he proportion of people that rank energy supply (20%) and climate change (15%) as the top three challenges facing Britain has significantly dropped (from 31% and 22% respectively in March 2014), and now ranks in the bottom three.

The Labour Party totally embraced the global climate change agenda in 2008 by passing the “Climate Change Act” (CCA), shortly after Gordon Brown was installed as U.K. prime minister.  The CCA mandated an 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050, with an interim target of 40% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2020.  The Labour government required the adoption of five-year “carbon budgets” based on recommendations from the highly politicized “Committee on Climate Change,” whose “unbiased” experts’’ home page states, “A balanced response to the risks of dangerous climate change.”

Labour said they had abandoned the “Old Regime” controlled by “Market Logic” and were now embracing “transition pathways for a UK low carbon electricity future.”  They promised a “New Regime” led by “Civil Society Logic” and “Government Logic.”

Labour’s manifesto, “The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan,” states, “There will be costs to the transition. But they are far outweighed by the costs if we didn’t act and faced the expense of adapting and coping with dangerous climate change.”

Labour expected the British public to pay for “carbon transition” through “feed-in tariffs” (FIT) to promote renewable energy production.  The huge cash incentive subsidies were so lucrative that over the next seven years, renewable energy production in the U.K. more than tripled to 22 percent of all electricity supplied to the U.K. National Grid.

Despite historically benefiting from cheaper coal and domestic offshore oil production, British electrical rates due to renewable subsidies are now the third highest in Europe.  The reason U.K. electrical rates are almost 50 percent higher than France’s 10.74 cents per kilowatt-hour is that “FIT” pays renewables an average subsidy premium of +6.92 cents per kilowatt-hour above the price paid for fossil fuel generated electrical power.  Even more expensive, the U.K. Supreme Court in 2012 upheld that under FIT, “small scale” renewables must be paid a premium of +33.30 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The British success in subsidizing higher production of renewable energy supplies caused consumer monthly electric bills to rise by +$26 England & Wales, $10 in Scotland, and $28 for the poor with bad credit who pre-pay for residential electricity.

With the “Climate Change Act” undermining the building or maintaining of non-interruptible fossil fuel plants, the U.K. National Grid was required to take “emergency measures to prevent blackouts this winter,” as British standby electrical capacity has relentlessly shriveled to just 4 percent of capacity.  With renewables unable to produce energy in periods of low wind and overcast skies, the National Grid predict that their “buffer” capacity will fall to 2.8 percent next winter.  Any time a series of power plants breaks down or goes offline for any reason, the U.K. could suffer widespread blackouts.

The British Geological Society has already completed 15,000 miles of seismic soundings across the Midlands and estimates that the range shale gas in place is between 49.4 and 134.6 trillion cubic feet, and the range of shale oil in place is between 3.2 and 11.2 billion barrels.  The area is known as the British industrial rust belt and has long been plagued with high unemployment and poverty.

Energy policies were not seen as a priority during the recent election, but the British public knew there was a clear policy choice between the Conservatives’ support for a fracking boom in the Midlands and Labour’s determination to prevent it.

American Conservatives should take a lesson from the British election.  The way to run the tables in national elections is to have the guts to risk asking the voters to choose between promises of a “New Regime,” led by “Civil Society Logic” and “Government Logic,” and supporting the “Market Logic” that offers prosperity and personal freedom.

Unappreciated by most Americans so far, the Conservative Party’s running the table in the latest U.K. general election was an underlying wave of public support for Prime Minister David Cameron and his party’s pledge to go “all out for shale gas.”  With U.K. residential consumers in 2014 hit with +$26 higher monthly electric bills to subsidize renewables and the nation’s energy grid on the verge of rolling blackouts, the British public rebelled against the Labour Party going all out for its climate-change agenda.  

The shock and awe of the Conservatives winning 43 percent more seats than the Labour Party has dumbfounded the media.  But the election saw Ed Davey, the U.K.'s energy secretary and a Liberal Democrat Party leader, lose his seat in parliament to Conservative rival James Berry after Davey campaigned on a platform of “Keep Britain Green.”  Davey wanted to expand the Green Investment Bank that he set up to invest public money into renewable projects; Berry won by promising to end it.

The most recent U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change “Public Attitude Tracker,” released on April 28, revealed that “[t]he proportion of people that rank energy supply (20%) and climate change (15%) as the top three challenges facing Britain has significantly dropped (from 31% and 22% respectively in March 2014), and now ranks in the bottom three.

The Labour Party totally embraced the global climate change agenda in 2008 by passing the “Climate Change Act” (CCA), shortly after Gordon Brown was installed as U.K. prime minister.  The CCA mandated an 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050, with an interim target of 40% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2020.  The Labour government required the adoption of five-year “carbon budgets” based on recommendations from the highly politicized “Committee on Climate Change,” whose “unbiased” experts’’ home page states, “A balanced response to the risks of dangerous climate change.”

Labour said they had abandoned the “Old Regime” controlled by “Market Logic” and were now embracing “transition pathways for a UK low carbon electricity future.”  They promised a “New Regime” led by “Civil Society Logic” and “Government Logic.”

Labour’s manifesto, “The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan,” states, “There will be costs to the transition. But they are far outweighed by the costs if we didn’t act and faced the expense of adapting and coping with dangerous climate change.”

Labour expected the British public to pay for “carbon transition” through “feed-in tariffs” (FIT) to promote renewable energy production.  The huge cash incentive subsidies were so lucrative that over the next seven years, renewable energy production in the U.K. more than tripled to 22 percent of all electricity supplied to the U.K. National Grid.

Despite historically benefiting from cheaper coal and domestic offshore oil production, British electrical rates due to renewable subsidies are now the third highest in Europe.  The reason U.K. electrical rates are almost 50 percent higher than France’s 10.74 cents per kilowatt-hour is that “FIT” pays renewables an average subsidy premium of +6.92 cents per kilowatt-hour above the price paid for fossil fuel generated electrical power.  Even more expensive, the U.K. Supreme Court in 2012 upheld that under FIT, “small scale” renewables must be paid a premium of +33.30 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The British success in subsidizing higher production of renewable energy supplies caused consumer monthly electric bills to rise by +$26 England & Wales, $10 in Scotland, and $28 for the poor with bad credit who pre-pay for residential electricity.

With the “Climate Change Act” undermining the building or maintaining of non-interruptible fossil fuel plants, the U.K. National Grid was required to take “emergency measures to prevent blackouts this winter,” as British standby electrical capacity has relentlessly shriveled to just 4 percent of capacity.  With renewables unable to produce energy in periods of low wind and overcast skies, the National Grid predict that their “buffer” capacity will fall to 2.8 percent next winter.  Any time a series of power plants breaks down or goes offline for any reason, the U.K. could suffer widespread blackouts.

The British Geological Society has already completed 15,000 miles of seismic soundings across the Midlands and estimates that the range shale gas in place is between 49.4 and 134.6 trillion cubic feet, and the range of shale oil in place is between 3.2 and 11.2 billion barrels.  The area is known as the British industrial rust belt and has long been plagued with high unemployment and poverty.

Energy policies were not seen as a priority during the recent election, but the British public knew there was a clear policy choice between the Conservatives’ support for a fracking boom in the Midlands and Labour’s determination to prevent it.

American Conservatives should take a lesson from the British election.  The way to run the tables in national elections is to have the guts to risk asking the voters to choose between promises of a “New Regime,” led by “Civil Society Logic” and “Government Logic,” and supporting the “Market Logic” that offers prosperity and personal freedom.