Pressed to include measures to permanently reduce demand in the already sprawling Energy Bill, action-man Minister for Climate Change, Greg Barker, swings into gear. Pow! He promises agog MPs on the committee that there will be amendments to the Bill in the lords. Blam! New clauses are added that require the government to run a ‘demand side reduction’ pilot under the existing capacity payment arrangements. Zap! A £20 million pilot fund is set up with the aim of dispensing its largesse on schemes in 2014.
Just one hurdle remains: how do you actually decide on what schemes really are demand side reduction, will permanently save energy, and hence might be encouraged through the new fund? Action minister is not fazed. Turning to his civil servants he tells them: ‘make it so’.
Now read on…
Various civil servants sit round the table, each willing the other to come up with the solution to the conundrum. What did the minister mean by ‘make it so?’ A senior member of the gathering breaks the silence. ‘Why don’t we ask the people who have been telling us that we need this stuff in the Bill what on earth they were on about? Then we can work out what to do’.
And so, in October a mighty conclave is convened. It has a working paper to go with it. People from the energy saving community are summoned to opine on the working paper, which helpfully has in it one or two starting principles such as ‘ savings to be relevant to peak periods e.g. winter weekday afternoons’.
The conclave is stunned. Who is able to think up a scheme that works and qualifies under this mystical injunction? It seems like no-one can. Economy-7 type measures? No that’s at night. Dynamic demand measures? Well, not really just during winter afternoon peak hours. The meeting breaks up in confusion, but agrees to reconvene later, helpfully supplied with a note of what has gone on and a sample bulletin scribed by DECC officials.
At last! A helpful example of a solution to the puzzle appears in the sample bulletin for the second meeting at the end of November. ‘People might think of schemes like replacing all the existing street lights with LED bulbs. That would be the sort of plan that would qualify’.
And with that the scheme is under way. Except…
A small boy passing by observes, ‘but surely…er…street lights don’t generally come on during peak hours in the afternoon. So how will that help?’ But it is too late. He is just a small boy after all.
So the grand plan gets under way, with much nodding of heads; they have really ‘made it so’, just as the minister had ordered. And still no-one has any idea what kind of scheme would be judged to qualify.