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National Grid

Volume 604: debated on Thursday 7 January 2016

As more domestic, community and business generators come on stream, the demand for grid connection is increasing, as the hon. Lady rightly points out. Accommodating this is the responsibility of the network companies, overseen by Ofgem. Network companies publish long-term plans setting out how new generation and demand will be managed. She might like to take a look at National Grid’s annual electricity 10-year statement as a good example of this.

Let us face it: National Grid is notorious for stifling new energy projects at birth in rural Wales. Given that the draft Wales Bill proposes devolving generating stations up to 350 MW but not transmission, how will the Minister work with the Welsh Government to ensure that that is not an empty promise?

I can absolutely assure the hon. Lady that the Government are committed to the Welsh devolution Bill, as set out in the Silk commission, and that is going through. Specifically, Ofgem, through the electricity distribution network price control, has approved about £24 billion of investment in the distribution network for between 2015 and 2023, and about £1.7 billion of that is for the distribution company responsible for north Wales, including the hon. Lady’s constituency.

Does the Minister share my concerns that, in the short to medium term, our energy security may be put at risk if the capacity market that is being put in place to bring forward new gas capacity not only fails to do that, but makes current gas capacity, such as that provided by the Glanford Brigg power station in my constituency, no longer worthwhile and results in it coming off-stream?

We have just completed the second capacity market auction and achieved a very competitive price for consumers; as the hon. Gentleman will know, it is a top priority for this Government to keep the bills down. At the same time, we have ensured that National Grid has the tools at its disposal to be able to ensure energy security, which is our overriding concern. I do not share his concerns. We are reviewing the capacity market to make sure we bring on new gas, but there are no concerns about energy security.