Moral dilemma for the proponents of gas
20th May 2019
Let me begin my hoping that readers of this blog recognise that I am a great advocate of the gas networks and the future role of gas in the UK meeting the energy trilemma. That done, I’ll now make a confession, I was troubled by what I saw on the ground last week and it creates a moral dilemma that I am struggling with.
I went on site to see some multi-occupancy buildings having their gas riser replaced. The stainless steel pipework looked immaculate gleaming in the spring sunlight. The site was incredibly well-managed and the residents were very happy with the work (and all the consultation that had gone on).
What was noticeable was that not every flat had the external pipes going into them. This is because the block had a district heating scheme for heat and hot water and the gas connections we could see were for cooking only.
The running costs of gas cookers and electric induction units are roughly the same. The size of the units are also designed to be the same. There might be some culinary benefits from using gas over electric, but I’m not in a position to know what they are.
What caused my moral dilemma was the cost of fitting new gas pipework to a minority of tenants, to provide a fraction of their overall energy use. I’m not going to breach commercial confidentiality, but it ran to several thousands of pounds per flat. I’m aware of the legal reasons why the connections were made but taking a step back, looking at the situation entirely objectively, I have my concerns.
The costs are met by other network customers in that area. So a fuel poor pensioner is paying towards the connection that enables someone to cook with gas. There might be arguments for reducing bills, tackling carbon etc. – but they don’t apply in this case (unless readers can offer reassurance that my moral antennae are misplaced).
I’ve long been an advocate of believers having a duty to point out inefficiencies in their area of expertise. I want teachers to point out where there is bad teaching; doctors and nurses to highlight bad medical practice – all on the basis that no one doubts their motivations for doing so. On the same basis, if the gas industry (by force of the law) is obligated to act in a manner that is questionable, we too should speak out and say so.
PS It was a genuine surprise and honour to be given the Special Recognition Award at last week’s Gas Awards lunch. Thank you for all your feedback and comments about this blog, it helps enormously.
Mike Foster, CEO
EUA's Chief Executive
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20th May 2019