RWE boss attacks UK’s ‘appetite for reform’

The boss of RWE npower, Volker Beckers, has criticised the UK government’s “appetite for reform” as being too much, too soon.

RWE npower boss Volker Beckers
He said yesterday that the governments Energy Bill and its Electricity Market Reform was “pulling too mant levers at once”, which risked “a loss of control and unintended consequences”.

Beckers, who has been based in Britain for eight years, said he still retained an outsider’s view of the UK energy industry and believed it was “the engine room of this country’s economic recovery”.

He said that the industry was a “surprisingly healthy patient” yet there was a desire in parliament to continually issue it with prescriptions to make it better.

The Electricity Market Reform White Paper, which is expected to be introduced as legislation this year and reach the statute book by 2013, is designed to provide the UK with a secure supply of affordable and low carbon electricity via four key elements: a carbon price floor; new long term contracts to kick-start investment in low carbon electricity generation; an emissions performance standard and a capacity mechanism.

“It seems that every part of the UK sector seems to be up for reform,” Beckers told an audience at the Marketforce Future of Utilties conference in London. He said the sector was suffering from “layer upon layer” of regulation and added: “The British approach is regulation with a veneer of competition.”

He said what the UK power industry needed now was clarity and stability for investors so that the huge cost involved of meeting carbon and renewables targets can be met. However, he warned: “If the Energy Bill is deemed unworkable then the investment potential in the UK will be diminished. There will be better places to invest – that is the simple truth.”

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