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Big Six lobby MPs against green energy and efficiency

Alex Stevenson & Oliver Tickell

30th October 2013

Big Six energy bosses join David Cameron's campaign against energy efficiency and green energy. Just the way for them to keep on ripping us all off.

It was meant to be the day when the UK's Big Six energy bosses were grilled by MPs and shamed into lowering their outrageous tariffs for domestic and commercial energy. But the bosses - and their minions - got the better of the MPs, using their interrogation to support David Cameron's campaign against green energy. 

"We need you to help us", William Morris of SSE declared to one frustrated backbencher. How exactly? By abolishing the green levies which support energy efficiency in low income households, and which pay generators premiums for green energy production. He and his Big Six colleagues claim that the levies add £60 per year to energy bills. DECC, the energy department, thinks it's no more than £40. 

"We say get it off customers' bills," Morris added, "and delay this drive to decarbonisation". But of course. That way the energy companies retain their monopoly on energy generation, keep up demand for energy in heating leaky old houses and flats, at ruinous expense to their occupants, and get to sweat their fossil fuel generation assets all the harder and longer - and so increase the profits they squeeze from hard-pressed consumers. 

But their outrageous chutzpah was only following the script written by David Cameron last week with his apparently off-the-cuff suggestion in the Commons chamber that the coalition should "look again" at renewable subsidies. 

The most serious blow against the Big Six came, not from an MP but from a new, small energy company, Ovo, whose CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick told the MPs: "We're all trying to find out where the money has gone. But you will never find it. These guys are among the best filibusterers in the business."

"The most expensive price we've paid for wholesale gas in the last four years was in May 2011 and since then it's been [less]", he continued. "I've been somewhat confused by looking at the explanations for the prices rises ... because we don't see nearly the same impact, especially on wholesale commodity costs."

So yes, consumers are being ripped off by the energy companies. But thanks to the Big Six's vertical oligopoly which encompasses energy production, generation and distribution, it's impossible to know exactly where the surplus profits are being made, and who - if anyone - is paying tax on them. 

* Read Alex Stevenson's Parliamentary Blog

* Alex Stevenson is Parliamentary Editor for politics.co.uk.

 

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