Energy Bill: Lords consideration of Commons amendments

12 December 2013

The Energy Bill returned to the Lords for consideration of Commons changes on Wednesday 11 December.

Debate focussed on an amendment requiring carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations operating after 2025 not to exceed the statutory rate, unless exempted. Members argued that the amendment would make clear that the contribution of coal in the UK's energy generation is not foreseen after 2025.

Other members agreed that coal has a limited future in the move to a low-carbon economy but taking it out of the supply presented risks to energy security and uncertainty for investors. The issue went to a vote with 215 for and 262 against, so the change was not made.

The bill will be given royal assent and become law.

Energy Bill third reading: Tuesday 19 November

Members of the Lords suggested changes to the proposals to reform the electricity market. On the requirement for all generating stations, including coal-fired power plants, to apply a new emissions performance standard to cut carbon emissions, members called for more clarity in the definition of a 'station' in order to secure compliance. The need for a strategy to tackle fuel poverty was also raised, with the government confirming it would set out the detail of its objectives in secondary legislation.

Energy Bill report stage day three: Wednesday 6 November

Members began by discussing an amendment seeking to insert a reference to fuel poverty into the statement of policy for energy - adding a social aspect to a policy already containing economic objectives and references to security and environmental concerns.

The government affirmed its commitment to tackling the issue, confirming it would bring forward proposals and issue a strategy, but argued it was not appropriate to put this level of detail in the bill. The issue went to a vote with 172 for and 233 against, so the change was not made. Other issues considered included making energy bills easier for consumers to understand and the need to maintain environmental safeguards when commissioning energy infrastructure projects.

Energy Bill report stage day two: Monday 4 November

Members began by discussing amendments designed to address market liquidation, reforming the market for independent generators and measures to increase the confidence of investors in the UK energy market.

Baroness Worthington (Labour), suggested a change requiring all generating stations, including coal-fired power plants, to apply a new emissions performance standard to cut carbon emissions. The issue went to a vote with 237 for and 193 against, so the change was made to the bill.

Energy Bill report stage day one: Monday 28 October

Members of the Lords considered a suggested change that would require the government to set out its decarbonisation strategy next year, establishing milestones up to 2030. The amendment was taken to a vote with 202 for and 216 against so the change was not made.

Other issues considered included the strategy and objectives contained within the bill for addressing fuel poverty and the need to promote effective competition among electricity suppliers.

Energy Bill grand committee stage

The Energy Bill spent nine days in grand committee in the Moses Room. The process is almost identical to committee stage taken in the chamber as members carry out a detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of a bill.

Starting from the front of the bill, members work through to the end. Any member of the Lords can take part. The single exception is that votes do not take place in a grand committee. Any issues requiring a vote must be resolved when the bill returns to the main chamber for report stage.

2 July (day 1)

4 July (day 2)

9 July (day 3)

11 July (day 4)

16 July (day 5)

18 July (day 6)

23 July (day 7)

25 July (day 8)

30 July (day 9)

Energy Bill second reading: Tuesday 18 June

The debate began with an explanation of how current levels of electricity demand are expected to double over the next 40 years, whilst generation capacity is set to shrink by a fifth in the next decade. The government's commitment to cut carbon emissions, as agreed in the 2008 Climate Change Act, was also discussed.

During the broad debate, which included arguments on both sides of the climate change debate, members considered how the bill would contribute to environmental sustainability and encourage investment in the UK's energy infrastructure.

Energy Bill summary

The bill seeks to:

  • reform the electricity market to encourage low carbon electricity generation and ensure security of supply
  • establish and define the functions of the Office for Nuclear Regulation
  • create the government pipe-line and storage system and rights in relation to it
  • establish a strategy and policy statement
  • make orders to require regulated persons to provide redress to consumers of gas or electricity
  • look at offshore transmission of electricity during a commissioning period
  • impose further fees in respect of nuclear decommissioning costs.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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