Our Energy Challenge
2006 and having started this report with reference to the energy crisis of the 1970s it appears that 2006 brings its own version with record increases in domestic gas and electricity prices. The Department of Trade and Industry estimates that every 1% increase in fuel prices forces a further 40,000 households into fuel poverty. NEA estimates that a minimum extra £500m a year is needed over the next four years to get the Government’s fuel poverty targets back on schedule.
The Energy Review – Our Energy Challenge: Securing clean, affordable energy for the long-term is launched in January to assess progress against goals set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper and what additional measures are required to achieve them. NEA’s response to consultation stresses that making energy efficiency the first priority of energy policy was justified on social, environmental and economic grounds. NEA advocates a single national energy efficiency programme which should be comprehensive in form, both with regards to the measures it offers and in offering some degree of help and guidance to all households. The programme should aim to make homes as energy efficient as possible using technically feasible and cost-effective measures and setting a minimum target energy rating of SAP 65. It should incorporate measures to solve the problems of homes that are hard to heat and/or expensive to treat, including solid wall insulation, domestic CHP (when commercially available), renewable generation and other low carbon options that are appropriate to vulnerable groups.
As NEA approached its 25th Anniversary in May 2006 the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated to be around 3 million with more than 4 million fuel-poor households in the UK NEA set itself a challenging work programme for 2006 and beyond in an attempt to address this. In its 25th Anniversary Year, NEA had a turnover of around £3.5million and employed 70 staff. Together with Warm Zones Ltd, the charity employed in excess of 160 people and had a turnover of £9 million.
In the five years since NEA’s Silver Anniversary the number of UK households living in fuel poverty rose significantly, from 4 million in 2006 to 5.4 million in 2011. The target set in the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy to eradicate fuel poverty among vulnerable households by 2010 was missed and the 2016 target will be extremely challenging.
2006-2007 The single major factor in rising fuel poverty was the continued increase in energy prices. By March 2007 prices were around 80% (gas) and 50% (electricity) higher than in 2004. NEA had always advocated that the most sustainable approach to tackling fuel poverty was to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income households. The success of the area-based approach to providing these services, as pioneered by NEA’s subsidiary Warm Zones, was acknowledged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2006 Pre-Budget Report, when he announced that £7.5 million would be made available to promote the wider development of this approach.
A number of energy suppliers introduced social tariffs as a means of mitigating the impact of price rises on vulnerable consumers. NEA worked with other NGOs to support a common position on social tariffs – a group of NGOs that would continue to campaign on behalf of the fuel poor as the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.
NEA undertook a number of projects throughout the year aiming to identify the role of renewable and alternative technologies in tackling problems associated with hard to treat properties. These included installations of air-source heat pumps, solar panels, biomass and wood burning stoves. These projects led to NEA receiving a number of prestigious awards including: The National Energy Management Exhibition (NEMEX) Renewables Innovation Award and the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG) Sustainable Energy Award.