This post is by the Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, minister of state for energy and climate change. An extract first appeared on The Guardian. The piece is from a forthcoming collection of essays: Green conservatism: protecting the environment through open markets. Similar collections are being published under ‘Green social democracy’ and ‘Green liberalism’ projects as part of Green Alliance’s Green Roots programme, which aims to stimulate green thinking within the three dominant political traditions in the UK.
Choice, competition and a dynamic market are all a recipe for success. When the UK electricity sector was privatised in the 1990s, one vast state run monopoly became a teeming market of fourteen new firms, competing for the business of the British consumer.
Thirteen years of Labour government took a different approach to the electricity market. For my money, we ended up with the worst of both worlds. Competition dried up and the sector drifted away from dynamic pluralism to domination by a small number of big companies. By 2010, just six energy firms controlled over 90 per cent of the UK sector. Read more