Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley and shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change, released the party’s Green Paper: End to Cold Homes, in Hastings on Monday.
The paper outlines Labour’s proposals for overhauling UK homes to be more energy efficient, as part of energy market reforms.
Releasing the paper, Flint said the renationalising utilities will not be part of reforms, saying that turning the ‘Big Six’ into the ‘Big One’ is not the right direction.
“Renewables do things in a different way”, she said and a new “managed market” with regulation “can restore trust in the energy sector, as well as make room for innovation and creativity”.
Flint defended keeping energy companies private by also revealing re-nationalising of the energy companies would cost an estimated £80 billion, including “legal spats”.
Flint said the Green Paper has been designed to build on the 20-month price freeze, announced by Labour leader, Ed Miliband earlier this year.
Flint said the freeze is a “cap”, and energy companies can still lower their bills, under the cap, to stay competitive – adding the freeze is in response to up to 45% reductions in wholesale energy costs that have not been passed onto customers.
“As a country we need to address cost of living concerns and fuel poverty. Even if we can pay our energy bills, we don’t want to feel like we are being ripped off,” said Flint.
To enforce the cap, a new regulator will be introduced, so that “if profits are not passed onto customers, it will make them” said Flint.
The Green Paper outlines plans to help five million homes realise an estimated annual £270 savings a year in energy bills energy bills by offering free home energy reports and grants for the most vulnerable, interest free loans and landlord targets to be met by 2027.
Flint said the paper hopes to place energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority.
The paper sets aims for 200,000 homes to be energy efficient a year, with all homes complete by 2030.
The UK Green Building Council responded to the Green paper saying that “energy efficiency would no longer be the Cinderella of energy policy”.
Flint also said the UK is a net importer of gas, and that fracking and carbon capture storage is “not an alternative”, but it is “not something that we will set our face against, it needs to be reasonable and regulated, not a freefall for exploiting the UK".
On nuclear Flint said it is “a last resort, a big decision only to keep the lights on”.
Shadow minister, Jonathan Reynolds said the “worst tragedy, despite fuel poverty and energy bills being talked about, is losing jobs in energy efficiency".
“We are not getting money to the right places; we don’t want boom and bust,” said Reynolds, adding that policy must be kept consistent.
In response to being asked about the recent comments by Conservative MPs Liz Truss and Amber Rudd, regarding solar as “ugly” and “unwelcome” Reynolds said “it is unfortunate rhetoric, solar is the technology of the future, to tell people we are not open for business will be regrettable".
“Anti-solar seems to be the next thing, why not back solar?” questioned Flint.
Reynolds said he wants to see solar farms in his local constituency, Stalybridge and Hyde and said other MPs should back solar in theirs, despite Labour MP for West Lancashire Rosie Cooper backing a campaign against the proposed solar farm development at Tawdside Farm in Hoscar.
When questioned about “Tory press” on renewable energy Flint said “we have to stand up and take on vested interests, be it in the media or banks".