A frisson of despair entered my heart this week when I heard OFGEM have suggested we might have to pay a charge for the grid upkeep. According to the chief executive of OFGEM due to solar panels and energy storage, demand for centrally generated electricity is falling. Since the grid has to be maintained somehow than an annual charge should be levied on bill users. This situation is unfair since the poorest users are paying for the richest that can afford such systems.
Lets just unpick the arguments here. First, a lot of this seems to be looking forward especially on energy storage. We are only just starting on this and its interesting and encouraging in a way that OFGEM see it as a threat to the centralised model.
The second point is that central energy demand is falling not just due to solar panels on peoples’ roofs. Its falling due to energy efficiency as well. My electricity use is not falling due to my PV system. Adding my first system cut my import a lot, the second not much and the demand kept rising until recently. What’s cut my electricity consumption is energy efficiency measures and these are not just the preserve of the rich. Should we pay a charge for this?
The third point is most PV in the UK is not on private roofs, but in fields so again the domestic bill payer could be charged for something that is beyond their control.
The fourth point is we already pay for grid upkeep through our energy bills so I feel I’m already paying a charge anyway.
The fifth objection is that there are many thousands of social housing systems with PV systems on their roofs, so again these systems are not the simple preserve of the rich.
In principle I have no problem with this although to stand it having any chance of acceptability it will need adding onto our bills so its “invisible”. My concern is as in the US, or horror of horrors Spain, we are going to be charged for PV systems as a tax retrospectively and that this is really a fightback by the energy establishment.