Updating our power systems comes at a hefty price

A general view of overhead power cables from the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Archive

After many weeks of wrangling the coalition is finally ready to announce the deal the two parties have done over the gigantic task of keeping the lights on, updating the energy infrastructure of pylons and power stations and cutting our reliance on carbon.

The Lib Dems appear to have come off slightly less well in a negotiation where the target for how much our carbon use is to come down by 2030 won't be decided this side of the next election.

More of what Conservatives wanted will be revealed when the government publishes its gas strategy, conveniently on the same day as next month's mini-budget.

But what is bound to catch much more attention today is the amount of money that is required for the government's plans. The cost is not far off £8 billion, rising to £10bn in the not too far distant future.

With some very rudimentary arithmetic that breaks down at nearly £200 per household.

The investment may be necessary, many may even argue it is urgent. The updating of our power systems can't happen for free, certainly not when more and more energy is to be cleanly produced.

But the bill will be hefty, whether it is paid by individual households through their bills or through taxpayer support. And it comes at a time when prices have been soaring and the government is also trying to claim it is doing everything it can to keep prices down.

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