Prime Minister Liz Truss is said to have blocked her energy secretary from launching a £15million advertising campaign encouraging homes to reduce their energy use.
The Times reports this morning disagreement between No 10 and D-BEIS over advertisements and media spending already authorized by Jacob Rees-Mogg, committing public funds to a “boost” initiative.
Nuanced to avoid so-called ‘nanny’ appeals to consumers to turn down thermostats, the initiative would still have encouraged them to save up to £300 a year, through steps such as turning off radiators and stopping the heating when the houses are vacated.
Print and broadcast media were to be used in the campaign, according to the report.
Describing Truss’ objections as “ideologically motivated”, the Times says the prime minister quibbled that such information is already available from other sources.
In his recent leader’s speech at the Conservatives’ conference, Truss told members that “I’m not going to tell you what to do, what to think or how to live your life.”
An unnamed government source denounced Truss’ “stupid decision” to the newspaper. “The campaign was entirely practical, it was about saving people money,” they said. “It wasn’t about lecturing them.”
Despite increased government financial support for homes and businesses following tariff hikes of 100% and more, estimates of UK homes likely to be forced into fuel poverty this winter range from 7 million, by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition at 11 million, or half, by the managing director of EDF UK, Philippe Commaret
The supposed spat between Truss, a former Shell UK accountant, and Rees-Mogg comes amid moves by network operators and providers to encourage consumers, both households and businesses, to minimize or shift the energy consumption.
Attempting to free up 2GW of demand on its backbone operations, National Grid plans to launch a new demand flexibility service from 1 November, encouraging electricity retailers to ask bill payers to use staggered loads in outside peak periods.
Interest in the plan already exists among large commercial users, says gridco.
Supplier Ovo Energy will reward its consumers from November to March with £20 for each month they understate their normal consumption by 87.5% during the three peak hours until 7pm.
This early evening period takes up about 19% of the retailer’s normal daily supply, he calculates, increasing pressure both on the network and on its own resources.
Households can achieve the goal, Ovo says, by shifting three full loads of laundry each week to quieter times like nighttime.