Energy price support welcomed but clarity needed, says MPA
Association says support recognized and appreciated but questions remain over details of the scheme
THE Mineral Products Association (MPA) has welcomed yesterday’s government announcement of support for businesses on energy costs. It says the scale of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS) – which will have enough impact to help businesses through the winter – is particularly recognized and appreciated by MPA members who between them manufacture 400 million tonnes of essential mineral products each year.
The EBRS is designed to provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all UK businesses whose energy costs have spiralled. It applies to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023, running for an initial six-month period.
But questions remain over the details of the scheme, according to the MPA, including how it will work for companies with complex contractual arrangements for energy and for those not connected to the grid, as well as what happens after the first six months. For example, the MPA has been calling for electricity market reform to remove exposure to volatile gas markets.
The Government also pledged ongoing support for ‘vulnerable businesses’ without defining whether this included companies in essential energy-intensive industries like cement and lime manufacture.
Diana Casey, director of energy and climate change at the MPA, said: “This welcome intervention by the Government will help essential mineral producers through the winter. However, energy prices are expected to remain high well beyond the next six months. It is vital that the proposed three-month review considers how energy-intensive industries like cement and lime can be supported to remain competitive beyond March 2023.’
Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, added: ‘It has been clear for months that the Government would have to intervene in the energy market to prevent widespread economic difficulties, and we welcome the scale and decisiveness of the announcement.
‘But we are also calling for action on fuel duty, which for our industry has gone up massively this year after the right to use red diesel was withdrawn. In the longer term we need to see delivery of the Government’s energy infrastructure programme to ensure we never face such challenges again. Our members stand ready to supply the essential materials needed to build the infrastructure for nuclear and renewable energy generation and distribution.’