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26 Feb 2009 : Column 921Wcontinued
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the number of households in each (a) Government Office region, (b) local authority area and (c) parliamentary constituency which are not connected to the electricity grid. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: No recent estimate of the number of households not connected to the electricity grid has been made, but the number is likely to be extremely small.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the effect of the economic downturn on the future development of an infrastructure for energy. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: While large energy companies continue to be able to access the capital markets for investment purposes, some smaller energy firms have found debt financing harder to come by due to current financial conditions, potentially leading to postponement and delay in some investments. The Government are working closely with such companies to ensure that they make the best of the financing opportunities available to them while these firms may also be eligible for the Government's recently announced schemes to restore the flow of credit to businesses (Working Capital Scheme, Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme and the Capital for Enterprise Fund).
Along with the regulator OFGEM, the Government are closely monitoring the effects of the credit crunch on the energy sector, particularly on investment plans.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent estimate he has made of the average monthly change in their expenditure which energy consumers who have not previously switched supplier could achieve by switching supplier. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: For an average consumer using 3,300 kWh of electricity and 18,000 kWh of gas per year and paying their bills on receipt (standard credit), the average annual saving from switching would have been £73 at average 2008 prices. If this average consumer also switched to paying their bill by direct debit, the saving would increase to £131 at 2008 prices. Savings of nearly £11 per month are therefore available from switching.
Data are sourced from section 2 of Quarterly Energy Prices, the latest edition of which was published in December 2008 and is available online at:
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what discussions he has had with (a) energy supply companies and (b) Ofgem on the practice of using backdated bills for prepayment meter customers. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is responsible for regulating gas and electricity supply, including recalibration and replacement of token prepayment meters, and the treatment of any debt that has accrued before recalibration. The Department discusses a range of supply issues with Ofgem on a regular basis and where appropriate, with suppliers.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many households had (a) gas and (b) electricity pre-payment meters in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) monitors, and publishes information about gas and electricity prepayment customers. From 1998 to 2007, the last period for which data have been published, the number of customers using prepayment meters is:
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the number of customers paying for (a) electricity and (b) gas by pre-payment meters in each (i) Government Office region, (ii) local authority area and (iii) constituency. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: DECC does not hold information on customer numbers by Government office region, local authority or constituency.
However, DECC does collect information on the number of customers paying for their electricity and gas by pre-payment meters in each PES (Public Electricity Supplier) area and gas LDZ (Local Distribution Zones). The following table shows the number of customers who paid for their energy using pre-payment meters.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking to improve the system of pricing for pre-payment fuel meter customers. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Ofgem, the independent regulator, has investigated the charges for different payment methods made by supply companies as part of its recent probe into retail gas and electricity markets. It is now consulting publicly on remedies to prevent energy supply companies from charging unjustified premiums for payment methods such as pre-payment meters. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already told the House that should a satisfactory and timely resolution of this issue not be reached by Ofgem and the companies, he is prepared to legislate.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2009, Official Report, column 1372W, on Energy: Prices, when he expects Ofgem to publish its first quarterly report on wholesale and retail prices. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We expect Ofgem to report during February.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps he is taking with his EU counterparts to encourage the diversification of energy supply routes. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The UK sees diversity of both sources and routes of gas as vital for the EU's security of supply. Recent events have underlined the importance to the EU of being supplied with gas from a wide range of countries. The development of a southern corridor, with the aim of bringing gas through Turkey to the EU from the Caspian region, and in the longer term from the Middle East, is crucial to that end. The UK therefore strongly supports the efforts of the European Commission and fellow EU member states to develop a southern corridor and is actively engaged in these efforts.
The Commission's second Strategic Energy Review (SEER2) of November 2008 affirmed the importance of a southern corridor as one of the EU's highest
energy priorities and the importance, to that end, of increasing high level political engagement with potential gas supplier countries, such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Iraq.
The European Commission and current Czech presidency of the EU have already signalled their intention to make this a priority for 2009 and we shall be working closely with them.
The UK also sees it as important for there to be a diverse selection of routes for gas to enter the EU and for this reason we support the building of new pipelines, under market conditions, to bring gas from established suppliers to the EU such as Norway, Russia and Algeria. In addition to pipelines, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), imported by tanker from countries such as Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt and Algeria, can also play an important role in diversifying gas supply to the UK and other EU member states.
The UK's own security of gas supply has been improved in recent years by new import infrastructure projects such as the BBL (Netherlands-UK) and Langeled (from Norway) pipelines, expansion of the (Belgium-UK) IUK pipeline and the new LNG import terminal at the Isle of Grain. Two further major LNG import terminals at Milford Haven are expected to be commissioned soon.
Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many (a) households including at least one child, (b) households including at least one pensioner and (c) households were classified as living in fuel poverty in Braintree in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The most recently available sub-regional split of fuel poverty relates to 2003, and shows that there were around 3,200 fuel poor households in Braintree. The data are not split by household composition.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the latest date is on which applications for grants from (a) homeowners and (b) charities and public sector bodies under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme will be accepted. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The latest date for new applications from homeowners is 30 June 2010 or when the money runs out, whichever is sooner.
For charities and public sector organisations the closing date for new applications is 30 June 2009. We would like to see eligible organisations making maximum use of the grants programme up to this date.
Mr. Denis Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many successful grant applications have been received by the Low Carbon Buildings programme for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems from households in (a) Wansbeck constituency and (b) the county of Northumberland. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The low carbon buildings programme has received the following applications for grants for solar photovoltaic systems from households in the county of Northumberland:
|Local authority||Technology||Number||Grant offered (£)||Grant paid (£)|
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