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Booker: the EU's grand design

Richard North, 11/11/2012  


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"We need more wind farms to power electric cars", said Mr Cameron last week, leaving Booker to wonder in this week's column whether there could be anything "dottier" than putting these two huge blunders together: "the fanciful belief that we can somehow provide a third of our electricity from unreliable windmills; and the quixotic enthusiasm for electric cars which, despite hefty subsidies, remain so unpopular that their UK sales have fallen this year to just 749".

Yet, says Booker, Mr Cameron's faith in these vehicles is just as absurd as his plan, confirmed again last week by an energy minister, Baroness Verma, that every home and business in Britain must be fitted with "smart" meters within seven years, at a cost of £11 billion.

Who, incidentally, is Baroness Verna, you might ask, that she is telling us such things? And therein lies a tale all on its own. She is one of these ghastly token ethnics which David Cameron seems to believe he must have around him.

Born in Amritsar in Punjab, India, she moved as a child with her parents to England in 1960 and, having been an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate in two general elections (2001 and 2005), she was made a Conservative life peer as Baroness Verma of Leicester in 2006.

Formerly a a Government Whip and spokesthing for the Cabinet Office, International Development and Equalities and Women's Issues, she has been a junior minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change since 6 September 2012 - less than six weeks.

And now, this woman presumes to inform us of the benefits of "smart" meters, speaking in London to the "Smart Metering Forum" from a brief prepared by her officials, for her to mouth jibberish, the likes of which she cannot even begin to understand.

What few have yet realised, least of all the presumptuous Baroness Verna, is that combining electric cars, windmills and "smart meters" is part of a grand EU design for our future which even now is being tested on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic, the so-called EcoGrid experiment.

The point about "smart" meters, Booker tells us, is that they do not only enable us consumers to keep tabs on our electricity use. Their primary purpose is to enable suppliers to exercise remote control over how much electricity we use, and when we use it.

The Government revealed the concept, although not the intent, in a 2009 pamphlet, which tells us that the devices would "allow some appliances to be turned on and off for short periods automatically and remotely".

The reason this "demand management" is necessary in the EU scheme of things is that the supply of electricuty from the windmills that it wants to see covering Europe are unpredictably intermittent, and cannot guarantee power when it is needed.

The answer the EU's technocrats dream of, as we see from the Bornholm pilot project for a "European supergrid", is that they can use "smart" meters to micro-manage the power we receive, right down to their ability to switch off whole categories of electricity use in our homes when there is insufficient power in the grid (what they call "intelligent" control of household appliances, such as dishwashers or televisions).

But the windmills can also produce electricity when there is no demand – the so-called "wrong time" electricity. This is where electric cars come in.

The idea of the EU grand designers is that we shall all be charging up our car batteries at night, to soak up the surplus power generated by windmills at times when demand is low. This will keep the grid stable without needing to balance it from "carbon" emitting gas and coal-fired power stations.

There, as we noted earlier, is the "green paradigm": shortages of essential commodities are engineered, forcing up prices artificially, which are then rationed out on price, driving down consumption to bring supply and demand back in balance. No longer is meeting demand a priority – demand must be managed to match the supply available.

All this, says Booker, is so fiendishly ingenious that one suspects Mr Cameron has been talked into promoting it without any real idea of what he has got caught up in. That undoubtedly applies to the Baroness Verma, who at least has been told to warn that "the success of the programme will hinge on winning over consumers, which is no mean challenge in the current climate of dissatisfaction with energy suppliers".

Before her "smart" meters are made compulsory, there is at least the opportunity to tell the Government to "foxtrot oscar". Big Brother cometh, we said, but he is coloured green, and has Baroness Verna for his advocate – someone who could not even get herself elected in order to boss us around.

Foxtrot oscar indeed.

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