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‘Disgrace’ to delay debate on new electricity charges

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A STATES backbencher has criticised the Council of Ministers for delaying her proposition on whether to block new electricity stand-by charges and provide more support for renewable energy.

Jersey Electricity wants to charge businesses that use their own electricity generators, such as solar panels

The proposal, lodged by Deputy Carolyn Labey, was deferred until the new year after Jersey Electricity agreed to delay bringing the fees into force.

The Deputy was calling for CICRA to oversee the activities of Jersey Electricity, which she says has a ‘monopoly’ on power generation.

However, Treasury Minister Alan Maclean, who acts as the shareholder representative of JE on behalf of the public, said that the debate should be deferred to allow further research to be carried out with a fuller review being brought back to the States in the coming months.

In the States, Deputy Labey said: ‘Nobody has put renewable energy on the agenda, with the exception of the Environment Minister [Steve Luce].

‘I am angry that the Council of Ministers behave like this every time a backbencher brings something forward.’

She later tweeted that the decision to delay was an ‘absolute disgrace’ and added ‘what are the COM afraid of? Why can’t well-researched and prepared States Members bring forward propositions?’.

Under Deputy Labey’s proposals Jersey Electricity’s plans to charge businesses that use their own electricity generators, such as solar panels and wind turbines, would be scrapped.

She argues that introducing those charges would hamper the development of renewable energy technology.

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The charges were originally due to come into force next month, but the company have agreed to delay them until March 2018.

In her proposition, Deputy Labey also requested Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham to table an action plan by 31 March 2018 on how he intends to ‘exploit and facilitate’ the development of the renewable energy sector.

And she calls for Jersey’s electricity laws, which date back to 1937, to be updated in order to open up the debate on renewable energy sources.

Senator Maclean, who proposed the deferral of the debate, said: ‘This is a matter that is extremely complex. There are some very important issues in this proposition – issues we are taking seriously.

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‘A review will be undertaken into the standby charge.’

However, Deputy Labey said that there was no reason that the debate could not be taken in this week’s States sitting and it should not be delayed.

Senator Philip Ozouf said that the Deputy had already ‘won a battle’ by forcing JE to delay the charge and that she ‘will win the war’, but only if the proposition is delayed for further research and reviews to be carried out.

The proposition is now due to be debated in January.

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