An Tax-Based Approach to Energy Saving

Posted August 6, 2009 // Tagged as Blog // 2 Comments ↓

I was at a meeting today organised by the UK knowledge Transfer Network for lighting. Our main topic related to Ultra Efficient Lighting howwever I am not going into this here as I have just written a bunch of stuff on on that subject. An idea was floated about taxing energy, particularly for lighting, at a punitive rate over a certain threashold.

The discussion developed from some points made about miss use of control systems, particularly office lighting being left on at night, and excess energy use created by incorrect maintenance, putting wrong lamps innto a lighting system for example.

The problem with this is establishing the threashold above which a punitive tax would apply. Potentially there would be a major cost in auditing existing building stock however as buildings are built or refurbished the work to determine the expected energy use is, or should be, done as a matter of course by the lighting designer or electrical engineer. These calculations might need to be refined and would also open the consultant to negligence claims if they got them wrong on the low side, however the information is there.

From discussions it seems that a system with rising rates for electricity already is used in Japan for domestic consumers, this obviously merits some study but it does lead to real energy savings or the principle of ” the polluter pays”.

Arguments against this largely centre on unfair impact on the elderly who generally need more light and heat as they are aged and at home all day, the disabled and to an extent on families with infants. These groups of users are already identified through the benefits system so if this is system is applied as taxation a bit of joined up thinking (not that governments are good at this!) could address these special cases.

This discussion does raise the issue that the current UK electricity charging system where eneergy costs less the more you use is completely inverse of how it should be if we are serious about reducing carbon emissions. What do you think?

Kevan Shaw August 6, 2009

2 Responses

  1. peter dublin

    August 7th, 2009 at 20:40

    Re rising rates for electricity
    I deal with that as a method for lowering emissions on
    As my caveats there imply, I am moving more and more away from believing in any need to focus on consumers…

    So, in general I would say that this is just more petty and idiotic chasing of consumers.
    A real coherent emission policy focuses on electricity generation and transport

    The argument that it’s too slow and expensive just to focus on that does not hold up

    Ultimately -for reasons of pensioners and low income households etc like you say – targeting electrical products is likely to be preferred to electricity bill increases by pro-consumer targeting politicians,
    and they might then at least see that taxation is better than bans – for them too!

  2. peter dublin

    August 7th, 2009 at 21:11

    I should add for the sake of logic, that I meant it’s wrong to chase electricity consumers…

    unlike (most) car buying consumers their consumption is not directly related to emissions, also there is no electricity shortage and if there was, the price rise would of itself reduce consumption.

    There is a mania to reduce energy use for its own sake.
    If people feel it saves them money, fine, but the reverse of the negative cutdown focus is this:
    Provide any energy needed, with any emission criteria you wish to put on it.
    The endless bureaucratic chasing of energy limits, energy standards, bans and “replacements” is in my view sheer lunacy.
    It’s like the emperor’s clothes – noone says anything, noone stands back and takes an overall view at what is happening….

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