Immunity from Prosecution?

If I turned up on your doorstep and told you lies to persuade you to sign a contract, and you believed the lies and signed the contract and subsequently it turned out that you could prove quite easily that I had lied to you and I had deceived you, you might think that I had committed some criminal offence. Indeed, I would have committed the offence of fraud under the Fraud Act. All the prosecution need to prove that I was dishonest, that I intended to make a gain and that I made a false or misleading misrepresentation.  I could easily be shown to have an intention of misleading you, because it must have been clear that I knew I was telling you a pack of lies when I got you to sign the contract.

For some reason which I cannot understand the Fraud Act is not being applied to energy companies. Continue reading

Manipulating Wholesale Natural Gas Prices

The news that traders in wholesale gas might well have manipulated gas prices fraudulently is being taken seriously enough to be investigated by OFGEM and the Financial Services Authority. The claim was made by a whistle blower, Seth Freedman, and while we should always presume innocence I am not unsurprised by the claim. Continue reading

Energy Prices Set to Rise as Risk of Power Cuts Increases

Already it has started. First the rumours of an energy price increase have gathered momentum. Although most energy companies have rules out an increase for the rest of this year, unless you have fixed your energy price, expect a swinging increase in gas and electricity bills from January onwards. There are probably several reasons why you should expect a price increase.

  1. Natural gas prices remain linked to oil prices and as the world come out of recession demand for natural gas and oil will increase. Most of the UK’s electricity is generated by natural gas. Most of the UK’s heating is provided by natural gas.
  2. Natural gas remains a regionally priced commodity whereas oil is an internally price commodity. Most of the UK’s natural gas comes from European sources, as natural gas production in the North Sea declines.
  3. As with any regionally priced commodity prices are high when demand is high and low when demand is low. Demand is always higher in winter, and there is still very little natural gas storage in the UK. We and the energy companies therefore los the opportunity to buy and store natural gas in summer when the prices are low.
  4. We have been reducing the “spare” electrical generating capacity for many years. If we are to avoid the possibility of power cuts we ought to have a “spare” capacity of around 50%, so as to cover for a very cold long winter. At the moment we have about 14% spare capacity and OFGEM, the regulator, expects this to fall to 4% in 2015.
  5. We have closed our coal burning power stations rather quickly, and although OFGEM appears to blame EU legislation for this, the truth is that the UK has been rightly closing coal burning power stations for years. What the government have not done is to build sufficient new power stations. I know that many think that governments in the UK do not build power stations – that is the job of the generating companies – but in truth the generating companies will only build power stations if they receive huge government subsidies. The government has very little tax payers’ money left and therefore no there are no subsidies as one by one the generating companies refuse to take the commercial risks of building new nuclear power plants.
  6. There has been insufficient investment in energy saving; the energy we require each year will be significantly less in terms of that required for space heat if we required all buildings to be properly insulated.
  7. Investment in renewable energy has been, so far, in the wrong kind of renewable energy. We have wasted much money on wind farms and photovoltaic panels which produces little effective energy saving because electricity cannot be stored but have not spent anything on solar water heating, a simple and effective technology where the energy created can be stored until it is need.

All of these factors will mean that energy – both heat and electrical – will come in increasingly short supply, which creates a perfect situation for the energy companies who can all raise their prices for something that we need and cannot generally buy elsewhere except in the case of solar water heating, where we can but the power plant and install it on our roofs.

The taxpayer will pay in higher energy prices and will risk power cuts in very cold weather, because successive governments’ failure to develop a sensible energy policy.

Investigating Energy prices

Regulators are supposed to regulate. In the case if energy companies the regulator is OFGEM and it has power to investigate so that regulation may be effective. In the past few months the energy companies in theUnited Kingdom, being in effect six retail suppliers of gas and electricity, have announced very large price increases, approaching twenty percent. Continue reading

High Pressure Energy Selling

When there are only six major sellers of domestic energy, which is a product that cannot be improved or changed, the sellers of energy can only compete for market share. There are a number of ways of competing for market share. You can advertise, send mail shots to potential customers, or put a sales person in front of the customer. Continue reading

The Genersys Solar Thermal Guide to the Renewable Heat Incentive for commerce, businesses, industrial and public sector and not for profit organisations

The Renewable Heat Incentive is a United Kingdom government subsidy, financed by the tax payer, to provide incentive payments for those who install renewable heat. It is essentially an incentive to reward renewable heat installations, rather than low carbon emitting installations and covers solar thermal biomass, ground and water source heat pumps, geothermal, biogas and biomethane technologies, but I shall concentrate on the incentive for solar thermal incentive. Continue reading

CERT and the no brainer of home insulation

The United Kingdom’s energy companies, that virtual monopoly of supply of gas and electricity, are, as part of the various climate change emission reduction targets, obliged to carry out certain measures to reduce the demand for energy from fossil fuel sources. These obligations are known as the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. It is an ill fitting name, as the “target” is a legal obligation to carry out so many measures, not to reduce carbon emissions but to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. At the risk of being called a pendant, I would prefer that the obligation was more accurately named, but I suppose “CERT” is an easy to remember acronym, even if it is confusing. Continue reading