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Environment spark back at electricity fears

Environment spark back at electricity fears

Wednesday 06 September 2023

Environment spark back at electricity fears

Wednesday 06 September 2023

Suggestions of a merger between Guernsey and Jersey’s electricity companies are “premature” and privatisation could jeopardise the island’s energy independence if pursued by the States, Environment & Infrastructure has claimed.

It comes just hours before the States prepares for a landmark debate on how future electricity should be sourced and generated for the island.

E&I is hoping to steer through a strategy which sets Guernsey down the decarbonisation path by agreeing that future power needs should come from a new direct cable to France, an offshore wind farm, and greater in-island solar generation. 

Last week the Policy & Resources Committee warned that the plans were un-costed and the huge investment required would be passed onto consumers, proposing instead that more consultation should be carried out with local companies and that investigations should be carried out with Jersey to ensure independence is looked at from a Channel perspective.

The Government of Jersey is said to be supportive of this investigation.

P&R is also keen to explore the privatisation of public companies, including Guernsey Electricity, but also others such as Guernsey Post and the Dairy.

“We are fully supportive of investigating a range of alternative options to fund the delivery of the strategy’s objectives,” E&I President Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez said, but warned while collaboration between cross-Channel energy companies should be looked at, it shouldn’t be focused on in isolation. 

“We are also concerned by P&R’s desire to explore privatisation… the pursuit of privatisation through ‘a single, consolidated Channel Islands electricity business’ would threaten our energy independence, leaving us with less control of how we supply electricity and less control over the cost.”

Guernsey Electricity Cable Diagram

Pictured: Guernsey Electricity has long held ambitions for a cable direct to France.

She also batted down fears that E&I’s proposed pathway to decarbonisation would be unaffordable, saying it would provide estimated savings of £200m per year compared to the current methods of electricity supply. 

“We are very concerned about the affordability of not agreeing the strategy. If we continue to supply electricity as we do today, Guernsey Electricity will need to spend an average of £71m a year up to 2050; our strategy will bring that down to £64m per year, so an average saving of £7m per year over the next 27 years,” she said.

P&R are suggesting work, and the necessary funding to do so, into leasing parts of the seabed within the island’s territorial waters should continue, saying it compliments rather than challenges initiatives led by E&I.

Deputy de Sausmarez said she wants more detail, and said any decision which impacts on domestic electricity supply sits within E&I’s political mandate. 

“Our mandate also includes marine policy and maritime affairs, as well as energy policy. Through that mandate, we have already had numerous conversations, which are ongoing, with the appropriate parties in Jersey and with other potential partners with respect to large scale renewables.”


Pictured: There appears to be agreement over offshore wind, but dispute over how it should be done and what part of government should lead on it.

P&R also suggested removing the standing charge – a base fee paid by users to maintain the network - to lubricate the roll-out of domestic solar panels to meet proposed self-generation targets, but Deputy de Sausmarez said this is already features within her committee’s policy.

The top committee had made a request in its letter of comment for E&I to quickly add in proposals to temporarily eliminate these charges on a trial basis.

“We would be happy to bring an amendment to make this even clearer,” Deputy de Sausmarez said.

P&R simultaneously criticised a lack of communication over whether enough consultation with local firms has been done on whether its domestic solar plans are realistic and can be delivered in-house.

On top of the hoped removal of stand-by charges to encourage solar take-up, Deputy de Sausmarez said E&I would be willing to talk about government-sponsored cash incentives too. 

“If P&R were interested in providing funding to incentivise solar PV panels using taxpayers’ money, as opposed to through electricity tariffs, we’d be keen to explore the detail with them.”

Debate on the Electricity Strategy is likely to start tomorrow. E&I face other challenges, with deputies seeking to ensure any approach is affordable for the public and not solely cost-optimal for the States. Deputies Bob Murray and Sam Haskins fear that the market for wind farms is turning cold and low contract costs on the current France cable may not be replicable on any new cable.


Electricity Strategy should be ‘affordable’ not ‘cost-optimal’

Jersey supportive of proposed pan-island electricity collaboration review

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