Ed Davey’s letter to Ofgem raises important points on reduction of energy demand, insulation and a call to the big energy companies in the country to stop profiteering as much as they do and to realize that demand will have to drop.
But is it realistic to ask companies that exist to make high profits to make a little less of those high profits but still play the game and still write our energy policy in accordance with securing those profits?
It’s significant that Ed Davey admitted this morning that climate change is most probably the reason for the historical floods and dramatic weather we have been experiencing.
But is a letter to Ofgem enough? Are threats to the Big Six of a break-up genuine? Do the figures make sense when the Big Six make most of their profits not through sales but through generation of energy which is predominantly fossil fuel based? If we realize we need to radically reduce carbon emissions to avert climate chaos then how does this cohere with plans to embark on a new extreme fossil fuel industry – namely Fracking for gas – which will cover 60% of England?
There seem to be many contradictions between what Ed Davey is saying and what the government is doing. For many casual observers this could look like political posturing in advance of the 2015 elections where energy will be a key issue and the main parties will talk tough to the most unpopular companies in the country and jocky to show they care the most about working people, the cost of living and fuel poverty.
We do know that there are some interim demands which should urgently be met in order to realize some of the aims that the government is purportedly putting forward to tackle fuel poverty.
These include focusing on the poorest and most indebted users, such as those on Pre Payment Meters (PPMs) – of which 1000 per day are fitted in the UK and which affect over 7 million users.
PPM users pay a standing charge even if they do not use any energy whatsoever. They can end up paying 30% more than direct debit payers. It is a scandal that those who use the least energy, pay the most for it.
Ed Davey and the government need to address the following:
No one should have a Pre-Payment Meter installed against their will
Home break-ins to force people onto meters should not be legal
The Standing Charge should be scrapped
Households on meters should have the same access to cheaper tariffs as households on direct debit
Ultimately the keys to tackling fuel poverty and climate change lie in a transition to a not-for-profit clean and safe energy system, under public and community con
trol, with storage, efficiency and a reduction in demand as key elements. This means an overhaul not just of energy but of our economy and how all resources, including our labour, are viewed and used.