U.K. green energy policies not raising prices, watchdog says

The growth of energy efficient appliances in the U.K., from washing machines to LED lightbulbs, have more than offset homeowner costs of helping the nation switch to clean energy, the government’s climate change adviser said.

Yearly energy bills for most households are now about 115 pounds ($141) less in real terms than they were in 2008, when the U.K. government passed a law to cut carbon pollution by 80 percent by 2050, according to a report by the Committee on Climate Change on Thursday. Policies to deliver clean energy added around 9 pounds a month in 2016, while reduced energy demand saved 20 pounds a month, the CCC said.

The cost of using renewable and nuclear energy compared with fossil fuels is key in the global debate about moving toward an emissions-free economy. Politicians face pressure to tackle climate change without burdening consumers with higher costs or increasing blackout risks.

In 2016, U.K. low carbon policies accounted for about 9 percent of the most popular consumer “duel fuel bill” combining gas and power charges, according to the CCC. Most of the average 1,160-pound annual bill comes from network charges and wholesale costs unrelated to clean power, the watchdog said.

“The U.K.’s progress to reduce emissions and its comparative advantage in important areas such as the automotive sector, offer opportunities for future growth and employment while delivering vital action to tackle climate change,” said John Gummer, chairman of the committee and a member of the House of Lords.

Almost half the U.K.’s power generation came from low carbon sources in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The country’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 38 percent since 1990, while gross domestic product has increased by almost 65 percent, according to the government.

“It is right to highlight low carbon developments and raising energy efficiency standards in households as actually helping to drive down electricity bills and reduce the cost of decarbonization,” said Juliet Davenport, chief executive of renewable energy supplier Good Energy Group Plc, in an emailed statement. “For far too long consumers have been under the impression that action to tackle climate change is costing them more money.”

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