National Grid should be broken up, say energy committee MPs

UK energy committee MPs are calling for the National Grid, the firm which runs Britain’s electricity system, to be split due to a potential conflict of interest.

National Grid owns and operates Britain’s high-voltage electricity transmission network – giving it control of the nation’s flow of power onto the grids.

National Grid plc is a multinational electricity and gas utility company headquartered in Warwick, United Kingdom.

The Energy and Climate Change Committee said in a report on Friday that National Grid should not be the country’s grid manager over conflicts of interest with a division of the company that owns international power cables.

Lawmakers say that changed need to be made so that distributors have better ability to control power flows on their networks, particularly given the rise of renewable power being generated at a local level.

“The government should set out its intentions regarding an ISO as soon as possible, and consult on a detailed, staged plan for their implementation, so as to avoid injecting uncertainty into the energy sector,” the report said.

It added: “Unnecessary asset development, or giving interconnectors an unfair advantage over existing and emerging balancing tools, could dilute the impact of other efforts to develop low-carbon network infrastructure.”

Angus Brendan MacNeil, chairman of the committee, said: “National Grid’s technical expertise in operating the national energy system must be weighed against its potential conflicts of interest.”

Shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead supported the findings of the report.

Whitehead was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “With the tech-driven transformation of the energy market that is well under way, together with legitimate concerns about conflicts of interest for National Grid, these proposals should be given serious consideration.”

National Grid said: “We take very seriously the need to provide confidence that any potential conflicts of interest are handled correctly and have a lot of experience operating in an environment where this is a key part of what we do.

“We are currently working with the government and with regulators to ensure we continue to manage potential conflicts as our role develops.”