Rearranging the energy furniture

In the United Kingdom energy prices, which for most people means electricity and gas for household consumption, have been rising far faster than the underlying raw material and delivery costs. As a result energy companies are making higher profits than utilities would normally deliver and some people are finding it hard to afford to keep their homes heated to a decent standard. As a result, last winter (which was one of the coldest for many years) 30,000 “excess deaths”, probably due to fuel poverty, happened.

With this situation of course the politicians have something to say and something to do. The Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband who was once in government as a dire and hopeless Energy Secretary, suggested that they would, if elected, force the energy companies (all six of them) to freeze their prices for 18 months. Of course that is no solution. There would be a price hike just as soon as Labour was elected and another once the freeze ended. The energy companies would exploit a freeze, make money out of it and in the long run customers would pay more than if there was no freeze.

The government have decided to readjust the various “green” levies that are added to energy bills, and pay for them out of taxation. This would not help the poor because ultimately they would suffer either in increased taxation or in loss of benefits of services which are paid for out of taxation.

So ultimately the political parties are doing no more than rearranging the energy furniture when what they ought to do is get rid of the furniture altogether and get new furniture that works in the public interest.

There are only two alternatives; my preferred alternative is to  nationalise the energy industries. It might be less efficient (although not necessarily so) but perhaps there would be savings in the vast management and directors fees of the existing oligarchy and nationalisation would give the people control of what has become a key requirement to life as we know it.

The other alternative is to require all of the oligarchy to hive off parts of their business and customers so that there are at least twenty energy companies covering the county. Then competition would be more likely to work. There would have to be a system for making the transfer of energy accounts from one company to another easier than it is now.

One thing is clear; rearranging the energy furniture will not make any difference

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