Energy Policy That Is Stupid and So Cruel
Byline: by Lisa Buckingham EDITOR, FINANCIAL MAIL
Even in the Alice in Wonderland world of this country's energy policy, it is still jawdropping that we are discussing spending [pounds sterling]10 billion on new gas-fired power stations to have on standby for when the wind doesn't blow hard enough to ensure our new generation of windmills keeps the lights on.
As Financial Mail has frequently reported, the heavily subsidised windmills now dotting our countryside tend to stop working at times of high pressure - usually when it's coldest - because the wind does not blow.
It is all very well to have grandiose ambitions to be the planet's greenest nation, but it looks rather silly if we then have to build not-so-green gas-fired generating kit to cover for the down days.
Not only is it silly, it is cruel as the cost of all this subsidised and badly thought-out power building is being paid by households, increasing numbers of whom are living in fuel poverty.
Don't we have a watchdog to keep profiteering by energy companies in check? Well, sort of. Last week going cost at Ofgem boss Alistair Buchanan flexed his muscles, bared his teeth, stared fiercely at energy bosses and...yet again ducked calling in the Competition Commission.
He has finally backed Financial Mail's calls for simpler tariffs to make it easier for customers to swap suppliers and he is talking about forcing the majors to auction about 20 per cent of their supplies to allow independents to come into the market.
Buchanan also plans a detailed audit of the internal trading prices charged by those companies that both generate fuel and then retail it. He scents there may be some price manipulation going on.
A poll by British Gas owner Centrica suggests consumers are prepared to pay about [pounds sterling]100 extra a year to go green. The reality is that in a few short years this will be costing at least [pounds sterling]600 of an average [pounds sterling]2,000 annual bill. That is before any extra charges for the standby gas plants.
FINANCIAL Mail readers have been angry - rightly so - about the failures of the banking system.
But the correspondence we have received has, by and large, been reasoned and considered about the banks' historical failings, with intelligent and reasoned suggestions for improving governance in the future. …