Households faced with sky-high bills despite wholesale energy prices falling for several months could soon finally start feeling some relief.
The energy crisis sparked by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic sent bills soaring last summer and added to a cost of living crisis.
It forced the government to intervene with its Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which ended in March, and although this softened the blow for many households, it didn’t prevent people’s bills being pushed up even further.
Energy secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show that although wholesale prices are returning to “normal” levels, “people haven’t seen all of that benefit, much of it, or even any of it yet”.
However, providing a sign of hope for the future, he added: “In about another six weeks, in the summer, that will start to feed into people’s electricity bills.”
As Yahoo News UK explained this week, there are a few reasons for such a long lag between falling wholesale prices and people feeling the benefit on their bills.
Even though bills are set to fall, Kuenssberg pointed to experts who have claimed energy prices are still on track to be 50% higher than they were two years ago.
Asked if punishing energy bills will simply become the “new normal”, Shapps said: “I can’t accurately predict exactly where the energy prices will be.
“But what I can tell you is at its height it was about 600 pence per therm for gas. I just looked this morning, it’s 76 pence per therm.”
Shapps acknowledged that the war in Ukraine – which helped push gas prices up due to Russia being such a big supplier – has intensified the need to invest in renewable energy, but the UK has already come a long way.
In 2010, renewable energy accounted for about 7% of the UK’s supply – in the past 12 months, 57% comes from renewables and nuclear, he added.
Shapps said there was more solar power in the UK than France, despite it being a smaller land mass with generally worse weather.
It follows research by Imperial College London that showed wind turbines had generated more electricity than gas for the first time in the UK during the first three months of 2023.
The National Grid has also confirmed that April saw a record period of solar energy generation, all of which is a step towards the government’s target of achieving net-zero emissions by 2035.
However, there are still some major snags, with Britons paying hundreds of millions of pounds to turn wind turbines off because the National Grid doesn’t have the capacity to take their electricity.
“We need to build in terms of connections to our grid in the next six, seven, eight years as much as we’ve done for the last three decades,” Shapps said.
“There’s a massive challenge. We’re almost a victim of our own success in having added so much energy to our grid that we’re now having this massive challenges.”