Things have heated up in the run-up to the EU referendum, which takes place on Thursday, with coverage about what may and may not happen strewn out across all forms of media.
But what could happen to your energy bills if the UK chooses to leave Europe?
Early this year, the publication of an independent report, commissioned by the National Grid, found that the impact of the UK leaving the EU (and the internal energy market) could cost a whopping £500 million or more a year to consumers. Amber Rudd, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, talked about the UK getting a ‘massive electric shock’ and said this was ‘the equivalent of British bills going up by around one and a half million pounds each and every day.’
In short – Amber Rudd claims that if we leave the EU, the access to the cheap electricity from Europe that has kept our household bills down, would no longer be available.
Not only this, but she went on to highlight the importance of the UK actually being in the EU and the investment opportunities this helped the UK attract in its energy system and supply chain – which in turn supports 660,000 jobs within the energy sector in the UK.
Is this a fact?
The problem is, no-one knows for sure what will happen if the UK leaves the EU. It is possible that we could still have access to the EU’s energy market, even if we did choose to leave, which could potentially make the impact on our bills not as great as the £500 million the National Grid are quoting.
But, then again, even if we did still have access to the EU’s energy market after leaving Europe, we would have no influence over any changes in policy or any new regulations that we would then have to abide by.
Some leave campaigners claim that energy bills would actually go down if the UK left the EU – but this could really only be achieved if the UK’s own Climate Change Act was then scrapped (allowing more investment in things such as fossil fuels rather than green energy). The government has already said it wouldn’t do this.
So – what’s the conclusion about our energy bills?
The UK leaving the EU is unprecedented, making it extremely difficult to say for sure what will happen if we leave. The government has said they won’t scrap the Climate Change Act and if this is the case, it seems unlikely that energy bills will go down if the UK votes to leave.
What does seem highly likely is that leaving the EU and the internal energy market will have some sort of impact on energy bills and according to the National Grid’s report, leaving the EU will make your bills higher.
The energy sector, along with the rest of the country, will be awaiting the results of the referendum with baited breath. Until then, arguments from both sides are likely to dominate media about what could and couldn’t happen if we left Europe.
We await the result with interest…