British industry urges govt action on energy prices, supply

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Vehicles queue to refill at a BP fuel station in Milton Keynes

By Susanna Twidale

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) has asked the government and the energy regulator Ofgem to tackle high prices, which they say threaten businesses, and to ensure supplies are not interrupted this winter.

Record high energy prices in Britain have already caused some industrial companies, such as steelmakers and fertiliser plants, to curtail production and led to warnings of food shortages this winter.

"The issue is not just whether the supply of gas and electricity will be available but also one of price. Energy intensive industries could simply be priced out of the market," EIUG said in a statement on Thursday.

Forward power prices in Britain are set to exceed those of last winter as gas prices have hit a series of record highs.

A spokesperson for Britain's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “We are determined to secure a competitive future for our energy intensive industries and in recent years have provided them with extensive support, including more than £2bn to help with the costs of energy and to protect jobs."

Britain's National Grid on Thursday said it expected sufficient energy supplies to meet demand this winter, but said electricity supply could be tight.

The EIUG, which represents companies such as manufacturers of steel, chemicals, fertilisers, paper, glass and cement, has urged the government to put in place emergency measures to make sure energy supplies are not interrupted and delivered at affordable prices.

"Longer term, we are seeking a fundamental review of the uncompetitive bundle of gas and electricity decarbonisation oncosts we face, that damage our ability to compete internationally," the EIUG said.

Energy costs have been driven by a series of factors, including reduced supplies from Russia and a rise in the cost of carbon dioxide, which big industrial polluters have to pay and is ultimately passed on to ordinary consumers.

BEIS also said the country's decarbonisation goals, and moves away from using fossil fuel in power generation, would ultimately help protect to consumers "from gas prices set by international markets."

(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by Jason Neely, Barbara Lewis and Jane Merriman)

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