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News: Home wind turbines - or else...

Households could be told to install wind turbines under proposals being considered by the government, according to trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling.

In an interview with the Independent on Sunday newspaper, Mr Darling said energy companies complying with tough new energy consumption targets could require their customers to fit wind turbines or loft insulation - or pay a financial penalty.

The trade and industry secretary said: "We need to change the incentive, so power companies are incentivised to require (because they have an obligation) you to be more energy efficient."

Efforts to persuade households into greater energy efficiency have hitherto focused on offering incentives such as free light bulbs and loft insulation to individual homes, rather than to companies. According to Mr Darling this approach has failed. "We need an obligation which bites. The approach of encouragement is not enough," he said. "It's much easier to persuade six power companies to do something different than it is to go and persuade 27 million of us to 'do the right thing'."

Power companies needed to be incentivised to provide less energy, Mr Darling argued, but he said no decision had been made on what type of market mechanism would be introduced, although he made it clear that householders would be the ones to pay for energy saving devices.

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