As a councillor, energy costs are an issue frequently raised with me by constituents. They’re also one of the most frustrating.
On almost any other issue I can take action and at least try to get a resolution to people's problems, but the high fuel prices that are driving people into fuel poverty are worrying and beyond the reach of local politicians, be they councillors, MLAs or even our MPs
Last week, the Consumer Council revealed Northern Ireland has the highest level of fuel poverty in the UK, with consumers paying 60% more to heat and power their homes than in GB.
Many factors conspire to ensure local families will have to choose between heating and eating this winter. Our dependence upon heating oil is one. I’ve previously called for oil users to enjoy the same regulatory oversight as gas users.
The ‘All Ireland Electricity Market’ that the assembly has sleep walked us into is a disaster. Affordable electricity requires economies of scale, which no market of 6.5m people possesses.
We should unplug ourselves from the failed ‘All Ireland’ market and plug ourselves into the UK market of 65m instead. Our friends in the Republic of Ireland might even like to join us instead of adopting the present ourselves alone policy.
Looking ahead, so long as government pursues ‘green’ policies, things will get worse.
Global warming isn’t happening - temperatures have gone nowhere for 20 years. Yet we continue to spend billions fixing a non-existent problem.
Wind power is a case in point. It’s a blight on the landscape, it’s eye-wateringly expensive and by the time it reaches our homes, it’s arguably less ‘green’ than conventional electricity.
It would be wrong to tar all renewable technologies with the same brush. Solar, hydroelectric and heat pumps can make sense in the right circumstances. But the market is littered with technologies, which instead of saving the earth, cost it.
Green taxation and legislation aggravates matters further and impacts disproportionately upon those who can least afford it. The Climate Change Act, The Carbon Reduction Commitment and EU interference are costing us billions. By 2020, green charges and taxes will cost a typical UK household £620 a year.
UKIP believes that Northern Ireland residents should have the same opportunity to access competition among all the UK power providers.
Just recently, the Prime Minister advised consumers to change supplier to reduce their bills. While shopping around has much to commend it, a long-term solution will require us to change our politicians and government, not just our energy supplier.