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Mr Brearley can boast plenty of action on climate change, from leading the development of the 2008 Climate Change Act that set Britain legally binding targets for reducing its carbon emissions, to six years at the Department of Energy and Climate Change overseeing legislation to decarbonise the electricity sector, unleashing a wave of offshore wind development. Yet today, as the UK aims for a goal of “net zero” emissions, Mr Brearley, 47, finds himself accused of standing in the way of climate action. He is chief executive of Ofgem, the regulator for the energy industry, a role he took on in February. Last month he announced a crucial draft price control determining the investments that electricity and gas network companies can make over the next five years — and how much they can charge consumers on their energy bills to pay for it. The companies were furious. “Ofgem’s draft determination fundamentally fails on net zero,” SSE cried. The plan “jeopardises the delivery of the energy transition and the green recovery”, National Grid claimed. “This was Jonathan Brearley’s first big test as the new Ofgem chief executive and he’s flunked it,” Scottish Power said. They were unhappy for two main reasons. Firstly, Mr Brearley had slashed £8 billion from companies’ investment plans as “unjustified”, reducing the initial amount they can spend — and ultimately recoup from consumers — to £25 billion. A further £10 billion of projects to support net zero will only be approved if companies come back over the next five years and prove they are really needed.

Times 1st Aug 2020 read more »

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