James Cropper CEO speaks out on energy crisis

Jo Francis
Wednesday, October 13, 2021

James Cropper CEO Phil Wild appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning speaking about the energy price crisis afflicting UK paper makers and other energy-intensive manufacturers.

Solar panels at the James Cropper mill
Solar panels at the James Cropper mill

Wild said that James Cropper’s energy bill was more than £3m a year, and the wholesale price of energy had gone up by 250%. 

He also pointed out that as well as buying ahead, the Cumbrian paper maker was also on a journey to being net zero with initiatives including solar – it has one of the UK’s largest roof mounted photovoltaic systems – as well as an on-site hydro-power renewable system.

“Even if you have bought ahead, you have only bought ahead for a portion and for a certain period of time, and it’s leading to a great deal of uncertainty over energy bills,” he stated.

“This is so dramatic for this set of industries that are heavy energy users… it also affects the way you run your business. 

“What we’re looking for from the government is a level of certainty about the energy bills we’re going to be paying.”

He said the mooted idea of government loans would not be helpful for the majority of industries being affected.

Loans had not been among the potential solutions to the issue proposed by industry bodies, which had called for a price cap and guarantees around supply, amid fears that some energy-intensive manufacturers could be forced to scale back or shut down operations and lay off workers because of the situation. 

“A cap would provide that level of certainty, or at least a grant would help to take the edge off the cost increase,” Wild said. 

The government is expected to announce proposals sometime today aimed at helping to alleviate the crisis.

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