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Osborne Said to Approve as Many as 30 U.K. Gas Power Stations
Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) — Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will outline plans to build as many as 30 new gas-fired power stations, adding detail to proposals to overhaul energy use in the U.K., say people familiar with the plan.
Osborne is likely to set out details in tomorrow’s autumn statement, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the timing of the announcement hasn’t been finalized. The new power stations will generate about 26 gigawatts of energy, more than a quarter of the U.K.’s current generation capacity.
The measures are part of a 110 billion-pound ($177 billion) program to replace aging power plants and reduce greenhouse gases. Energy Secretary Ed Davey has said he will allow utilities to triple the renewable energy levy that comes through in household and business power bills to 7.6 billion pounds by 2020.
The government’s gas strategy will say Britain may need more capacity than it does today. It will say there could be 37 gigawatts of plants by 2030, accounting for half of all energy generation, the people said.
Osborne will also explore whether he should give tax breaks for shale-gas exploration. He will look at creating a body called the Office of Unconventional Gas to allow industry, consumer groups and environmentalists to settle disputes and to regulate the sector.
The energy deal struck last month represented a compromise between Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. Cameron’s party has raised concerns about the costs of reducing emissions from electricity generation, while the Liberal Democrats have emphasized the need for greener sources of power.
Osborne repelled Davey’s effort to have an immediate goal for removing carbon from utility emissions, known as a “decarbonization target,” a move criticized by environmental pressure groups WWF and Greenpeace.
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