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National Grid boss: Energy usage is a luxury in the UK

Critics call comment ‘misguided’ as UK families struggle to afford their energy bills

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Nation Grid boss claims UK energy expectations are ‘luxurious’

The head of the National Grid has faced an angry reaction after claiming on Monday that the amount of energy used in the UK by families is something of a “luxury”.

The National Grid has previously warned that the UK could be stretched to its very limits in terms of energy production if there is a particularly cold winter either this year or in 2014/2015, but the claim from senior director Chris Train will come as a surprise to many.

Train said that providing the “luxury of electricity that we desire” would mean customers footing the bills for billions of pounds worth of upgrades to the system of provision of energy.

Comments ‘misguided’

Critics have accused the boss of being out of touch with the concerns and worries of families — some 95% said earlier this week in a survey by Santander that they are trying to cut energy use. The comments were described as “misguided”.

Labour energy spokesman Tom Greatrex said: “It’s a hugely misjudged comment.

“Electricity is not a luxury. The reality is it’s hard for all but a handful of people to live without it.

“If parts of the energy sector can’t understand that then little wonder that public anger over energy is the way that it is.”

Price rises not ruled out

The comments from Train have also come at a time when further price rises are not being ruled out for families.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said this week that despite the cuts to green levies implemented by the government last week, there is no way to ensure that further price rises will be avoided.

Energy companies have already said that the £50 savings the government has created by implementing changes will not be applied to customers’ bills until deep into winter, leaving many struggling with higher charges.

Fuel Poverty Action’s Clare Welton said she “would not be surprised to see price rises in the coming months and years from ‘companies that have always put their shareholders’ returns before the right of their customers to keep warm and healthy”.

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