We tend not to think that the passing scene is oversupplied with interesting and useful ideas for government policy. Thus when one does appear we think we ought to note it:
Every household could have to pay an annual "insurance premium" for access to the UK electricity grid, under plans to overhaul the way networks are paid for.
Energy regulator Ofgem is worried that people who can afford to install solar panels and generate their own power for much of the day may end up not paying their fair share of the costs of the UK’s electricity pylons and cables.
We're not sure we would call it insurance, nor that we'd mutter about fairness. But as a basic economic idea there's much sense in it.
Traditionally the cost of the power generation and then the transport of it are bundled into just the one price that the consumer sees. When all energy did flow across that same system this obviously made sense. When some to much energy is locally generated and locally consumed and thus does not use the transmission network then it makes much less.
But people still want the network and access to it, however little of their energy they are getting from it. That solar system isn't much use at turning the lights on at 4 am. Thus, yes, it seems sensible that they should be charged a fee for access to that network.
That is, unbundle the current system. Sensible and logical: but there will be an awful lot of screaming about this. Because such unbundling is going to, as unbundling always does, reveal the true costs of the various parts of the system. Meaning that, sure, your solar panels might offer you electricity at times: but here's the true cost of having 24/7 availability. That's going to come as a shock to quite a lot of people.
Renewables can be reasonably good at generating electricity at times. They're really not all that good at making sure that you've always got electricity when you desire it. And ensuring that costs a fortune.....