Energy: What Lib Dem members think about the price freeze and new nuclear power station deal

by Stephen Tall on December 28, 2013

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 750 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.
Would you support or oppose the following policies…?

64% oppose energy price freeze

… Freezing energy prices for 20 months from May 2015, while reviewing the regulation of energy companies

    7% – Strongly Support
    16% – Support
    Total support = 23%
    34% – Oppose
    30% – Strongly Oppose
    Total oppose = 64%
    12% – Neither support nor oppose
    1% – Don’t know

60% support new tax on energy company profits

… Introducing a new tax on the profits of energy companies to pay for extra help for disadvantaged groups with their fuel bills

    19% – Strongly Support
    41% – Support
    Total support = 60%
    17% – Oppose
    7% – Strongly Oppose
    Total oppose = 24%
    15% – Neither support nor oppose
    1% – Don’t know

77% oppose reducing ‘green taxes’

… Reducing the “green taxes” that currently make up part of people’s gas and electricity bills

    3% – Strongly Support
    9% – Support
    Total support = 12%
    36% – Oppose
    41% – Strongly Oppose
    Total oppose = 77%
    10% – Neither support nor oppose
    1% – Don’t know

92% support greater clarity over tariffs

… Greater clarity about tariffs, so that customers can more easily sign up for the lowest available.

    58% – Strongly Support
    34% – Support
    Total support = 92%
    1% – Oppose
    1% – Strongly Oppose
    Total oppose = 2%
    5% – Neither support nor oppose
    0% – Don’t know

French/Chinese finance for new nuclear power station supported by 56% to 36%

The government has recently signed a deal with French energy company EDF and a Chinese energy firm to build a new nuclear power station in Somerset, the first new nuclear power station in Britain since 1995. Do you support or oppose the decision to build a new nuclear power station?

    56% – Support
    36% – Oppose
    8% – Don’t know

Here are a sample of your comments…

* If you’re serious about reducing carbon footprint, nuclear has to be part of the solution.
* have severe doubts about involvement with foreign state-owned enterprises, especially when the country concerned is a one-party dictatorship
* Support only as a ‘bridge’ until more renewables are available. The cost was extravagent, however.
* Reluctantly support
* Nuclear is vital part of a balanced nil carbon supply future. We need more
* Unless we take dramatic action to reduce demand for energy (and such action will not be palatable to Labour or the Conservatives), we have to increase energy supply quickly to avoid power cuts and economic damage. Renewable technologies, whilst part of the solution, are not yet capable of supplying all our needs.
* It won’t help with the coming supply crisis and incurs more unquantifiable liabilities.
* It is a disgrace it is not British owned or nationalised.
* We need a mix of energy sources to keep the lights on
* What is the long term cost to the environment?
* I have serious reservations about the relationship between China’s autocratic government and its relationship with the UK ih this role. It seems to me that there are potentially serious issues about security here.
* Pity the six main companies aren’t interested in investing. I happy with the French but not the Chinese.
* No one has presented any alternatives in terms of power generated and cost and resources required

Almost half party members say minimum price guarantee for nuclear backers “unacceptable”

As part of the deal the government has promised to pay a minimum price for the electricity generated that is above the current wholesale price of energy. This will ensure the companies make back the money they are investing in building the power station. Do you think this is acceptable or unacceptable?

    38% – Acceptable
    48% – Unacceptable
    14% – Don’t know

Here are a sample of your comments…

* This is a subsidy the party claimed it would never agree to.
* It’s very hard to say. I disagree with the way the market is structured, so I can’t really give a definitive answer.
* If this isn’t a subsidy I don’t know what is…
* The principle is OK but the price is too high.
* Energy including nulear is becoming more expensive. In due course this will appear to be a good deal.
* plenty of subsidy to sweeten deals for overseas corporations who have no stake in the success of British civil society, but cuts to the services which actually make up UK civil society
* The principle is acceptable, but the price agreed is ridiculously high.
* Guaranteed strike prices are one of the few options available for making the building of new power stations financially viable. The alternative is for the state to build the stations, and this country can not afford that expense (thank you Labour!)
* If the risks are so complex that the market cannot price them the state should be funding project itself rather than accepting such a premium.
* Building nuclear power stations is expensive !
* If the Government are going to guarantee private companies a profit they may as well just fund the build directly themselves as Government debt will be cheaper than private companies borrowing to build the nuclear plant and they are not even taking any commercial risk.
* In our world they can’t supply power for free or at a loss.
* If nuclear was a commercial option there would be new nuclear in the US.
* Not over the moon about it, but presumably unavoidable.
* One of the worst decisions of this government, and led by a Liberal Democrat. Truly appalling!
* There should be no subsidy for Nuclear, as voted on by conference. Ed davy and co do not listen to Conference.
* It would have been more sensible to go for a build/ operate deal, with government borrowing to fund the build.
* It is correct that they should make their money back but I think that the minimum price offered is too high.
* Only acceptable for a mature technology if future spot prices expected to be higher. Fixing a minimum price, however, is a necessary government commitment for all energy investment in the UK.
* Acceptable in principle but I think the figure may be too high.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 749 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 18th December.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.