back to article EDF: We'll raise bills 11% - but only 2% is due to energy costs!

EDF Energy is the latest of the UK's Big Six energy suppliers to announce brutal price rises, in this case an increase no less than 10.8 per cent - yet the company openly admits that energy prices would call for a 2 per cent rise at most. Why on Earth does the firm think it's OK to implement a price rise almost six times that …

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  1. localzuk
    FAIL

    Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

    And ignore long term energy security... Yes, putting renewables in place is expensive, and we're all paying for it, but as is said time and time again, and seems to be ignored by certain journalists, the supply of oil and gas is not unlimited. It will run out. Would it not be better to shift to energy production which we can be sure won't suddenly disappear or suddenly increase in price due to another despot being overthrown?

    At lease we can be sure wind will continue to blow, waves will continue to crash on the shores, tides will continue to go in and out, and the sun will continue to shine.

    Not to mention efficiency drives, reducing costs in the long term. The place I work at has gone from a G rating to a B rating through improved efficiency - insulation, PIR controlled lighting, demolishing old buildings and replacing them with new energy efficient ones etc... Our power bill has dropped by 50% and our gas bill by about 60%. Everyone should be happy about that too, as its taxpayers money that is now going to be saved for the next few decades, as its a school.

    Me? I'd be happier knowing we don't have to go out and import oil all the time.

    1. localzuk

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      Love the downvotes - anyone care to give comment as to why?

      1. hplasm
        Holmes

        Re: Love the downvotes

        Because you obviously wear a hair-shirt?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        There is a significant and quite rabid climate-change-denier cult around here, I daresay the votes will even out as the more reasonable people get a look in. It's just that the Lewis Page fanclub are quick to put the boot in to anyone with the slightest tinge of green to their views.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Meh

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        "Love the downvotes - anyone care to give comment as to why?"

        Because you miss the point. The price rises are not correlated with security of supply at all. In fact, the reverse. With the extensive roll out of subsidised wind farms, thermal plant is becoming less and less economic for the operators. But that's what keep your lights on in winter, not wind or solar. So then we will soon need to pay even more in the form of "capacity payments" to keep thermal plant available, and despite that you'll see all coal plant exit the market, reducing the fuel diversity, and making us more reliant on gas which we have limited storage facilities for (certainly at winter peak demand volumes).

        Your comments about "waves continue to crash" ignores the intermittency of all forms of renewables. The modern world needs continuous high quality power, not third world levels of dependability. And since oil is the only volume transportation fuel, building any number of wind turbines won't make a blind bit of diofference to how much we import int he forseeable future.

        And accepting that fossil reserves are limited, that should cause a gradual swing towards reneweables, not the pell-mell rush of vast subsidy fueled schemes, building assets that simply don't work well together. So wait on wind, let other people be the pioneers and get the scale up and costs down, work on research to address the intermittency, don't spend a penny on pointless low output solar panels. Instead, we're subsidising the wind build out, paying top dollar ((£18 billion so far) making it cheaper for everybody else (and incidentally using largely foreign companies to build wind turbines); the Germans are doing the most research into energy storage, and we're subsidising eco-wankers to put solar panels on their houses at the expense of the average bill payer.

        You also make the point about energy efficiency. Well it it pays for itself, what were your facilities managers doing beforehand? Idle buggers are paid to sort this stuff out, and should do it without waiting for a prod with a sharp stick.

      4. Nev Silver badge

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        Because "renewables" in the UK are an Eco-scam:

        No amount of wind turbines and PV panels will solve the UKs looming energy crisis.

        And the amount of energy expended in obtaining the resources for and then fabricating PV panels will always be more than they generate. (Assuming dirty panels, on fixed roof mounts in a northern European climate.)

        Thumbs-up for the efficiency drive though.

      5. A J Stiles
        Facepalm

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        I can only assume it is because they think that downvoting people who point out that the party is going to end, is somehow going to keep the party from ending.

        Sooner or later, the strategy of invading countries to secure energy supplies is going to fail.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes, lets focus @ A J Styles

          "I can only assume it is because they think that downvoting people who point out that the party is going to end, is somehow going to keep the party from ending."

          Not sure why you got so many downvotes on that comment. But I think the question is how, and how quickly we transition to renewables. The current "plan" is a halfwitted panic, is expensive, ineffective and puts people off renewables. You're right that the party will end sooner or later. If we can use things like shale gas to prolong the oil age, then perhaps renewables can be developed to a level of cost and functionality that they will work.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

          "Sooner or later, the strategy of invading countries to secure energy supplies is going to fail"

          That's what you say.

          Others say "leave it to the market, and all will be well".

          What could possibly go wrong?

          Party on dudes.

          It CAN'T last forever without massive technological and social realignments. In fact it might not last much longer at all. It might be that the biggest transfer of wealth from poor to rich in recent history (in the US and UK) is because "they" know the "good times" will be over sooner than we're allowed to think.

          [Hint to downvoters: tragedy of the commons]

      6. itzman

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        Because renewable energy doesn't solve the emissions situation and it's not even clear that emissions are a problem, and even if they were what Britain does is totally irrelevant. Its what China/India do that is the issue.

        Neither is making us rely on gas co-operation, any sort of energy security.

        In short renewable energy is an expensive way of failing to solve a problem that possibly doesn't even exist.

        http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf

    2. briesmith
      Thumb Down

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      Fatuous, illogical, arrogant, unscientific.

      Wind power requires an exact parallel capable system - usually fast-start gas fierd powered stations - in order for it to be viable.

      The gas that this commenter says will run out is the same gas that will (or won't) power the stand-by facility when the available wind is unusable; which it is most of the time.

    3. Infernoz Bronze badge
      WTF?

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      Rubbish, the market should take care of this, with the right incentives; most of the currently proposed/implemented 'eco' 'solutions' are uneconomical i.e. they will ironically result in HIGHER net construction and maintenance energy costs than current proven sources of power, maybe even be net negative power generation infrastructure for their full lifespan!

      The amount of power saved by feasible, better power usage is trivial, and far most costly to retrofit to existing infrastructure; it will not make up for the power stations lost due to the frankly suicidal Fascist EU energy policies this government are allowing and assisting to be imposed on us!

      Until there are practical and high enough capacity power storage system near so-called renewable power facilities they will not save any net energy and will actually cause extra cost to in addition to the uneconomical construction and maintenance for these facilities, due to the requirement for backup conventional power generation capacity.

      Nuclear, when done correctly, is always net positive power for it's lifespan, even with shutdown costs.

      This country needs to build new generation Nuclear Power plant sharpish, like Thorium Reactors, which are designed to never reach melt-down stage or release nuclear material during an unexpected event.

      1. localzuk
        FAIL

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        "This country needs to build new generation Nuclear Power plant sharpish, like Thorium Reactors, which are designed to never reach melt-down stage or release nuclear material during an unexpected event."

        Love it. Yes, let's build nuclear power stations with technology that doesn't exist.

        1. Symon Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Importing nuclear fuel.

          Actually, the UK's stockpile of plutonium could run PRISM reactors for 500 years.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/20/richard-branson-obama-nuclear-technology

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

          "IFRs are able to withstand both a loss of flow without SCRAM and loss of heat sink without SCRAM. In addition to passive shutdown of the reactor, the convection current generated in the primary coolant system will prevent fuel damage (core meltdown). These capabilities were demonstrated in the EBR-II."

          Intrinsically safe and it burns nuclear waste. What's not to like?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Sirius Lee

          Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

          @localzuk

          Of course it exists. The Brits trialled it back in the 1950's. The Chinese and Indians are creating such reactors today. Defence wants dangerously lethal plutonium and enriched uranium and the UK is a reprocessor of these fuels so that's the option we're given.

      2. FutureShock999

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        The market NEVER cares about anything that will affect the stock price in more than one to two years. PERIOD. Because all CEOs and Board members know that their own time at the table to rake in massive salary and bonus is statistically not much longer than that. So "the market" only cares about what will maximise short-term profit for the senior execs and board members to get paid bonuses on, and have their stock dividends vest nicely - not the fact that we will almost certainly run out of non-renewable energy sources in 10,20, or 30 years. Anyone who says otherwise has too limited business experience to even bother listening to.

        Get this: THE MARKET is totally ineffective in planning around long-term change or threats. Even the big institutional investors know that if they have a large number of energy stocks, they can dump them totally in 6 months should they become non-viable. But they also know that in the lead up to total exhaustion, those energy companies are likely to have a huge run up, as they auction off the last of the non-renewables. The end result is that there is NO market correction mechanism.

        But Lewis is really playing a blinder here - confusing Climate Sceptic with those looking for a proper, sane way out is just daft. Everyone knows wind, waves, etc. are costly playthings that will do nothing to solve the problem long term. Every adult at the energy table knows that the UK (and the US, et al) needs to embark upon a massive construction program of New-Gen nuclear reactors, in a standardised, non-market driven manner such as France has done. Every design identical, nothing customised, stamped out like cookie cutters. None of this "a few from GE, a few from Japan..." garbage that leads to non-standardisation, and higher support and development costs. Choose a single design (the French have some skill in that), and go build 20.

        Every adult knows that is what needs to be done. And the market won't drive that until it is too late. But far better to raise electricity rates by 10% to fund those new nuclear plants, and have reliable year-round supplies, than continue down this road of half-measures with renewables.

    4. localzuk

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      Ok, so those saying that renewables don't cut the mustard here... What do you suggest instead to ensure the long term energy security of the UK? Nuclear? Nope, we have to rely on imports for that too.

      People seem quick to lay into renewables but seem to consistently fail to provide any alternatives.

      You know, a barrage across the River Severn could generate about 15GW of power, if put in the widest stretch. That is about 5% of the UK's total energy needs. And it would operate for around 120 years. Sure, it'd need something to cover the hours it wasn't generating during, or some form of energy storage (how about converting that energy to hydrogen or something), but its a large chunk of energy production.

      1. PlacidCasual

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        Nuclear power may rely on imported fuel but at least that fuel comes largely from friendly stable democracies like Australia, Canada and South Africa. In addition it is easy to store large amounts of fuel against shortages. The UK is a major nuclear fuel processor and one of a handful of fuel reprocessors, I wouldn't be suprised if we already had access to decades worth of raw materials for Mox fuel for conventional or fast fission plant.

        Until the storage problem is solved wind, and wave are useless costly irrelevance. Once the problem is solved they become a sound and practical option.

        1. itzman

          Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

          No, even then (with some as yet undreamed of mass storage) they do not represent an economic or viable option. The energy density is low because the energy source is diffuse. That inevitably means huge areas of land or sea surface have to be devoted to power generation, and we need that land or sea for other things.

          The only;y unique selling point of renewables is that is possible to sell it to gullible ecotards and politicians at vastly inflated profits. Beyond that, and keeping your caravan battery topped up in summer, it is as much real use as a chocolate teapot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yes, lets focus on @localzuk

        "You know, a barrage across the River Severn could generate about 15GW of power"

        The economics don't look good. If you could fix those, you've still got the problem that the eco-lobby will be at war with themselves over such a scheme. Special interest groups are mostly against - RSPB, and National Trust for example are opposed.

        Note as well that such a scheme still doesn't provide either baseload, or reduce the need for peak generating capacity, and that rather spoils the case, because you're then paying for two lots of generating assets. As with other renewables, energy storage is far more of a problem than the ability to generate random electricty.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: Yes, lets focus on @localzuk

          The barrage would provide baseload except for about half an hour twice a day when the tide turns, and as we know exactly when that will happen, we don't need fast start generators to cover it. Also interruptible supplies such as stored heat and cooling could be switched off during that half hour period to reduce demand.

      3. nsld
        Mushroom

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        "You know, a barrage across the River Severn could generate about 15GW of power, if put in the widest stretch. That is about 5% of the UK's total energy needs. And it would operate for around 120 years. Sure, it'd need something to cover the hours it wasn't generating during, or some form of energy storage (how about converting that energy to hydrogen or something), but its a large chunk of energy production."

        And the environmental and local ecological cost of your masterplan is what exactly?

        And this non existent storage technology of which you speak, what exactly is it?

        If you want to use less hydrocarbons then use less energy, it really is as simple as that, we cannot live the life we currently have and expect to meet our energy needs with wind turbines and solar panels.

        So you have two choices, you either go nuclear, or you live a much simpler subsistence lifestyle and use less energy and have a lower overall impact on the planet.

        Either way the current system where the government forces new incentive scheme costs on energy suppliers and then berates them for passing it on is not sustainable and nor is the mad flight to energy generating methods like wind and solar which are intermittent, inefficient, expensive and incredibly environmentally damaging to construct in the first place.

        Unfortunately the eco mentalists like the way we live know and have this dream of using a few windmills and it will all be ok, unfortunately, reality is very, very different.

      4. peter_dtm
        FAIL

        localzuk --> Posted Friday 26th October 2012 14:00 GMT

        quote

        (how about converting that energy to hydrogen or something)

        end quote

        therin lacalzuk lies the problem. If it was that easy then those pointless energy wasters : wind turbines would actually be worth having; ANY intermittent power source would be worth tapping.

        unfortunately the most efficient means we have of storing energy is - oil & gas; after that comes nuclear.

        You'll notice that both of these have one thing in common -- NATURE has provided these; free of charge; and we can not make them in a cost efficient manner

        It is energy storage that is the limiting technology. No one has a method of STORING energy and then RELEASING it ON DEMAND in the quantities we need (currently approx 37GW for the UK; any idea of HOW to store 37GW of power; never mind releasing it efficiently )

        Without a way to store industrial amounts of power on a use on demand basis; intermittent generation COSTS

        energy to use. I'll leave it to others to work out what one hours supply of 37GW looks like; say as a lake and damn - now divide that by 10 - as that is the current approximate claimed faceplate value of wind turbines - look at the history of UK wind generation and realise we have to provision at least TWO weeks of wind free days

        quote

        a barrage across the River Severn could generate about 15GW of power

        end quote

        yes twice a day for about 1 hour each side of peak tidal flow.

        It would also - twice a day round slack tide produce ZERO

        on an intermittent basis that bears no relationship to demand

        see this link for UK demand and supply figures; if you don't cry at the wind turbine contribution; or laugh at the wind power subsidy farmers' claims about its utility you do not understand what you are looking at

        1. Trevor Marron

          Re: localzuk --> Posted Friday 26th October 2012 14:00 GMT

          No one has a method of STORING energy and then RELEASING it ON DEMAND in the quantities we need (currently approx 37GW for the UK; any idea of HOW to store 37GW of power; never mind releasing it efficiently )

          No, but power stations like the one at Ben Cruachan go some of the way to doing this. Anyway you are over dramatising the problem, we will never go from zero demand to a requirment of 37 GW.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: localzuk --> Posted Friday 26th October 2012 14:00 GMT

          Sorry but any poster that apparently doesn't understand the difference between power (measured in e.g. GW) and energy (measured in e.g. GWh) doesn't start off all that well. Want to try again?

          As an illustration, the pumped storage plant in north Wales at Dinorwig can generate 1.8GW for a duration of 5 hours (or less power for more hours, take your pick). Call it 10GWh of energy (in very round figures).

          http://www.fhc.co.uk/dinorwig.htm

          A series of relatively small tidal reefs in the Bristol Channel could be used to combine the best of both tidal power and pumped storage without the massive environmental disruption that a full barrage would inevitably cause.

          There are serious suggestions that an HVDC link to Norway would allow the UK to use to use Norway for pumped storage. Probably only another few GW and GWh, but every little helps.

          There are also folks who think that a fleet of electric vehicles (not necessarily cars) being repurposed to feed into the grid at peak times could also be a useful contribution. The numbers look quite interesting for (say) a hundred thousand vehicles each feeding 5kW or so.

          There is, afaict, no single magic solution. A lot of engineering effort (and a lot less political interference) will be needed. And it should have started decades ago, but privatised utilities were and are never going to do forward-looking development of the kind needed. That was understood at the time of privatisation but ignored.

          Here's where our energy came from today, this week, and for the last twelve months:

          http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

      5. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

        >"You know, a barrage across the River Severn could generate about 15GW of power, if put in the widest stretch. That is about 5% of the UK's total energy needs. "

        Unfortunately we only have one major estuary, the Severn, in which to put such a barrage. so whilst it could reliably generate about 5% of our total energy needs we still need to find the remaining 95%.

        So whilst every little helps, we've yet to find a real alternative to coal, oil, gas and nuclear. Which as time goes by it would seem that only nuclear (in one form or another) is our only contender as a long term high quality energy source. This isn't to rule out other energy sources, only I don't see any ready for prime time.

    5. That Steve Guy
      Thumb Down

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      The entire renewables industry needs massive subsidy just to stay afloat, so no this is not a short term price hike.

      Every christmas customers get bled along with the turkeys and every quarter following energy companies boast huge profits, this greed has to stop.

    6. James Micallef Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Given that energy is a finite resource...

      ...it makes sense for it to be more expensive - at least expensive enough that people are thinking about how much they use. What does NOT make sense is the pricing model that the government and utilities are using.

      There should be a minimum consumption level (enough for a person to live comfortably on*) below which prices stay around the same, and above which prices double or triple. That will promote efficiency and penalise waste.

      The second thing is for government to subsidise green technology directly with money raied from taxes instead of passing the costs to consumers through the utilities. That way the burden does not fall disproportionately on those least able to afford it.

      *of course this level in itself would become a matter for debate ut at least it's a start

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Given that energy is a finite resource...

        "There should be a minimum consumption level (enough for a person to live comfortably on*) below which prices stay around the same, and above which prices double or triple. That will promote efficiency and penalise waste."

        So my elderly parents who are at home all the time, and therefore have a high domestic energy bill should pay extra, whereas young employed people who spend a few hours a week at home should get their energy cheap? You've put a whole lot of thought into this idea, haven't you?

        And as for using taxes to pay for wanky, ineffective eco-tech.....that's going to work out well, isn't it? You really, really think that government could organise a piss up in a brewery? I've worked in Russia, where for decades utilities were priced at fixed levels to accomodate "the proletariat". It didn't work. The infrastructure is decayed, pollution is rife (and corruption). But if that's what you want then go there.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Facepalm

          @ledswinger

          "You've put a whole lot of thought into this idea, haven't you?"

          Actually no, the example you mention of elderly people did not occur to me, and no doubt there are many other factors. Still, I think waht I thought up in 5 minutes back-of-an-envelope is better than the status quo. And instead of just shooting down other people's ideas like 80% of the comments here, I'm proposing something.

          From what I can understand of your comments about government incompetence etc, I guess that you're against government regulation and all for the free market.Well, in that case what you will see is EXACTLY higher prices that will mostly affect those that can least afford it. So do you have a solution that can reconcile the two?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Given that energy is a finite resource...

          >So my elderly parents who are at home all the time, and therefore have a high domestic energy bill

          Doesn't automatically follow!

          My elderly parents and in-laws who are also at home all the time have significantly lower energy bills than my family do, even though our houses are similar sizes and mine is the newest !

          Part of the reason for this is that they have made significant investments in energy efficiency and by fitting solar panels (effectively purchasing 20+ years of electricity upfront) ...

      2. itzman

        Re: Given that energy is a finite resource...

        E=Mc² tells you that Energy may be ultimately limited, but there is a **** of a lot of it locked up in various elements that have no other practical value.

        Good farmland is far more scarce.

    7. Pete B
      Stop

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      " demolishing old buildings and replacing them with new energy efficient ones etc"

      And how long will it take to 'repay' the energy costs of creating that new building?

      I do actually agree with you about energy security, but disagree completely about how it should be generated; lets have something reliable so we don't end up having a complete duplicate set of gas turbine generators to cover the periods when the sun doesn't shine, and the wind doesn't blow (oddly enough these two happen quite often at the coldest time of the year). Our governments energy policies over the last 20 years has been absolutely disgraceful; if we're going to massively subsidise anything then it should be proven Nuclear Plants.

    8. itzman

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      Sadly, renewable energy is going to make the square root of Sweet Fanny Adams difference to carbon emissions.

      http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf

      We are paying for nothing we need or want.

    9. Tim Watts

      Re: Yes, lets focus on short term cost increases...

      I'd be happier if the governments had built adequate nuclear capacity 20 years ago and maintained research into safer and safer forms of nuclear power.

  2. A J Stiles
    Megaphone

    Energy price rises

    Unfortunately, energy price rises are par for the course. And if you must blame somebody for this situation, try blaming successive governments imagining that fossil fuels were not going to run out while they were in power. Just be grateful that there is actually still some electricity to be bought; because generating capacity is reducing even while demand is increasing, and it's a matter of time before demand outstrips supply.

    About the only way out of this mess is to generate your own electricity.

    1. fixit_f
      Stop

      Re: Energy price rises

      It's not just about electricity - most people use more gas than leccy.

      There's a flip side to this potentially. I predict a glut of people recommissioning old fireplaces and/or installing woodburners, as I have done. My local telephone exchange supply me with a supply of wooden pallets, or I can raid random skips I see in the street. I chop up this free supply of energy in the back garden and burn it all winter. Good for me as it massively reduces my gas bill, as an incidental side effect having a woodburner is a lovely thing and the missis and cat love it. On the downside, despite it being clear act compliant I can't imagine it being as clean per unit of energy produced as burning relatively clean gas. So if more people like me start doing this, pollution and carbon emissions will perversely start climbing.

      Thus - renewables could lead to an actual INCREASE in pollution by people heating their houses by alternative means.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Energy price rises

        Pollution possibly, although a electrostatic scrubber is easy enough to fit in a chimney (although never seen one in a residential property).

        Carbon - no. Wood is great. You burn it it releases carbon, but where do you think all that came from in the first place? Ah yes. The air. Efficient wood burning stoves are awesome, provided you feed them with wood from fast growing sustainable forests (i.e. replant as much as you burn).

        1. A Known Coward
          Stop

          Re: Energy price rises

          Ah, but those 'fast growing' plantation forests are terrible for the environment. They are practically lifeless ecosystems where natural flora and fauna cannot survive and to supply enough wood to heat all the homes in the UK would mean the creation of such forests on a vast scale. Anyone who still use a wood burning stove or fireplace can tell you that they go through fuel at a staggering rate. Pine and other fast growing softwoods don't even make great fuel for fires, they burn quickly and kick out little heat in the process. There is a very good reason that coal and not wood became the major fuel for fires in the 19th century.

          Never mind the fact that even if you tore up half the countryside tomorrow at the loss of arable land, grazing land and nature reserves to plant those trees it would be 30 years before we could start harvesting.

  3. Tom Wood

    And Profit?

    Of course, their profits must also rise faster than the increases in energy costs. To keep pace with the other big energy companies, naturally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And Profit?

      Go and see what returns on capital the energy companies are making before posting ill founded rubbish. Taking SSE because they're UK owned and have no international exposure, their return on capital employed was 9.01% last year, which was barely enough to cover their cost of capital.

      If you hate profit so much, then we can renationalise the lot, and you'll see the headcount balloon about four fold back to the levels that the CEGB and REC's oversaw, efficiency will disappear, and your energy costs will go up even more (noting that the whole point of recent price increases is government interference). Oh, and the renationalisation will add about £100 bn to the national debt. That'll be a good deal.

      1. EyeCU

        Re: And Profit?

        I suggest you look at the BILLIONS in profit declared every year by every single energy company - and that's just what the accountants can't hide from the tax man.

        Re-nationalize the energy companies into 1 national service and all that profit can be forgotten about as it is no longer needed to pay shareholders. Constant profit growth is also something that can be forgotten about as there are no shareholders to keep happy.

        The 100bn you quote as the cost of renationalisation could be paid off within a few years on the profits alone, but it won't be anything like that figure as you conveniently forget about the billions in subsidies the energy companies currently receive that will no longer have to be paid.

        Once the cost of renationalisation has been dealt with then the profit can be split between lowering bills for everybody and investing in new technology and infrastructure. The only people who won't be happy are the managers, directors and shareholders of the big energy companies as they will no longer be able to make obscene profits off the back of people who cannot afford it.

        1. PlacidCasual

          Re: And Profit?

          The big six energy companies have typicall being making £50-£70 profit per customer per year over the last few years. This is a measely amount given the safety, technical, regulatory and budgetary risks they have to run. These companies are making about 5% profit at the moment and are all investing £100's millions in new plant for which they are having to borrow. The margins are no longer there to justify the investment which is why they are all stopping investing in anything that doesn't farm huge renewable subsidies.

          The energy indusrty is also subject to the whims of the politiicians who can at the stroke of a pen wipe out business models or rebalance the profitability of whole swathes of the industry. Drax Power for lost 25% of it's value in a morning on the basis of the draft white paper on Energy Market Review.

          The public is massively ignorant of the energy industry and sees big numbers as a big problem. Companies with 7 million customers will make large profits even with modest profit per customer. They forget their misplaced love in with unrealistic green policies has an impact on their bills.

          Also why does everyone think the shareholders of utilities are cigar smoking fat cats ruining lives just to afford the next ivory back scratcher. It's pension funds and the like that own the majority of these companies and these relatively meagre dividends pay for peoples old age.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And Profit?@ EyeCU

          Of course they make BEELLEEEOONNSSS (capitals to emphasise how profit is EVIL), because they've got hundreds of billions of quids worth of assets.

          It's a common lefty fallacy that if something is publicly owned you don't need to make a profit. That's bollocks, because at the operating level you need a surplus to reinvest in asset renewal, and you need to service the incremental national debt.

          The bulk of the problem is bungled state control, state interference, and regulation. Your solution is to hand control to the people that have made the problem. On the one hand I'm pleased that you have such touching faith in government, with it's proven track record of waste, stupidity and incompetence. On the other hand, I'd rather not have my power subjected to even more of DECC's fuck witted bungling.

          1. EyeCU

            Re: And Profit?@ EyeCU

            I didn't say that a public service doesn't need to make a profit. I said you don't have to show continuous growth in those profits because it would have no impact on share value as there won't be any shares. I also stated that the profit should be used to re-invest in the infrastructure and reduce the price to the consumer instead of lining the pockets of people who are already stinking rich.

            And of course, no private company has ever suffered from a proven track record of waste, stupidity and incompetence, have they?

      2. Chad H.

        Re: And Profit?

        If you hate profit so much, then we can renationalise the lot, and you'll see the headcount balloon about four fold back to the levels that the CEGB and REC's oversaw, efficiency will disappear, and your energy costs will go up even more (noting that the whole point of recent price increases is government interference). Oh, and the renationalisation will add about £100 bn to the national debt. That'll be a good deal.

        -------------------

        How do you figure? In nationalising it we just fired most of the sales and cancellations teams, and the entire marketing department.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And Profit?@ Chad H

          "How do you figure? In nationalising it we just fired most of the sales and cancellations teams, and the entire marketing department."

          I think you'll find that the single largest marketing budget going is the public sector's, so expect no savings there. And speaking as an industry insider, I can tell you that firing the sales and cancellations teams would save about £30 a year on an average bill of almost a thousand quid, which will be offset by public sector incompetence to the tune of about five times that sum. Even our back office services are much cheaper than government's, despite having a tiny fraction of the government's payroll.

          But if you want the CEGB back, write to your MP. I'll be guaranteed a job for life, a fat pension, and no real responsibility, and you can pay for me.

  4. AfternoonTea
    Flame

    Well, a few of will be going cold this winter.

  5. Cosmo
    Thumb Down

    Price fixing cartel

    The energy companies are all part of a price-fixing cartel. Nothing more, nothing less. They all raise their prices at around the same time (and almost always just as winter kicks in), but the sequence of which energy company blinks first is normally rotated to "balance" the playing field and to attempt to entice customers to jump ship.

    If I turn my thermostat down one more degree, then I might as well remove my central heating system (I already have loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, energy efficient light bulbs etc. etc. )

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Price fixing cartel

      "The energy companies are all part of a price-fixing cartel."

      Well report them to the MMC. As it happens there have been repeated investigations by MMC and OFT, which have found nothing. The reason for prices rises roughly in synch is because they operate assets of similar nature and cost, they buy raw materials on the same world market, and because wholesale power prices are set by system marginal price.

      It's a bit like milk. Not big, permanenent variations in price because the production costs are similar, distribution and selling costs about the same, and world market impacts have the same effect on everybody.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Price fixing cartel

        "It's a bit like milk."

        It's nothing like milk. Dairy farmers have been forced to sell at a loss by the likes of Tesco etc. Are energy companies forced to sell their product at a loss? No? Didn't think so.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Price fixing cartel

          "Are energy companies forced to sell their product at a loss? No? Didn't think so."

          Real margins have been negative in the supply business for about four years up until 2011. But don't let facts get in the way of your moaning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Price fixing cartel

            @AC 14:30

            D'uh! Negative margins do not equate to 'being forced to sell at a loss' which was the point made by the other AC. But hey, don't let facts get in the way of your criticism.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Price fixing cartel

              "D'uh! Negative margins do not equate to 'being forced to sell at a loss' which was the point made by the other AC. But hey, don't let facts get in the way of your criticism."

              Of course they do, you tit. In both cases the "manufacturer" has committed investment and incurred fixed costs, and has to take what the buyer and the market offer. If that's below the average cost, but above the marginal cost then they're selling at a loss, but the loss is minimised by continuing to sell, rather than throwing in the towel, and they stay in the market until conditions improve, or if the market doesn't improve they go bust.

              It's a totally bloody identical scenario (and applies in a lot of other markets as well, like mobile phone makers not called Samsung or Apple, or European mass market cars, amongst many others).

          2. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Re: Price fixing cartel

            You what? So the energy companies are some form of charity? Like hell. They are making massive amounts of money. The accountants may be telling everyone that there is no money in supplying the UK - but thats about as obvious as there is no money in starbucks in the uk... of course not, thats why they are trying to open more.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Price fixing cartel

        "world market impacts have the same effect on everybody."

        Really? I always thought that they have a disproportionately large impact on the most vulnerable members of society.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Price fixing cartel

        For most of its history, UK's OfGEM has been a standing joke in the industry, so any credibility of so-called "investigations" is extremely limited. The name that immediately springs to mind is Littlechild but others were probably as bad or worse.

        " they all buy fuel from the same market to make it"

        "wholesale power prices are set by system marginal price."

        Do they/are they? How much of the energy sold at retail actually passes through a wholesale market where prices are visible and trades are transparent? Look it up, you might be surprised at how little it is. [And in passing, how well has that market, and the associated alleged regulation, worked in terms of maintaining the UK's security of energy supply? It hasn't, as anyone grid-reliant, ie most of us, will find out in a few years]

        If you're a vertically integrated supplier, which is what most of them want to be, and indeed where the numbers show most of our energy already is already coming from, any decent number-fiddler (aka accountant) can make the profit and loss account look however he is told to, e.g. by reallocating costs amongst different parts of the vertically integrated business to achieve whatever goal is desired.

        For the avoidance of doubt: no hairshirts wanted here. But no domestic-scale solar PV either, not so sure about commercial-scale wind, and where the f*** is the commercial-scale energy efficiency that my pre-college job was looking at back in the 1970s ? Subsidiised low energy light bulbs (etc) are a joke.

      4. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Price fixing cartel

        You mean report them to the same people who regularly claim the supermarkets aren't cartels either? It is pointless. The 'investigations' will reveal nothing - the people aren't so dumb as to leave an email trail open for all to see with appointments to see each other at the golf course to discuss the price they should charge. The fact that the prices so clearly mirror each other, that they move at the same time, that the profit continues to escalate unbounded and that there are no 'innovations' all point to the same - it is a cartel.

        It will never be proven because it isn't a stupid cartel.

    2. PlacidCasual

      Re: Price fixing cartel

      I'm not convinced that the energy suppliers are in a cartel. I think it is more likely that they all deal with the same variables and thus the possibilities of differentiation are small.

      There are only 2 products gas and electricity. They all use similar technology to produce the electricity, they all buy fuel from the same market to make it. They all use the same monopoly distribution systems and all pay the same taxes. The billing requirements are largely regulation imposed by the regulator and they all sell into the same market. In and efficient market the cost drivers are all so similar and the product so undifferentiated that prices will tend to be close.

      I'm not convinced privatisation and competition is the best solution to this market simply becuase the facts of life are all so similar.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Price fixing cartel@PlacidCasual

        "I'm not convinced privatisation and competition is the best solution to this market simply becuase the facts of life are all so similar."

        Well, the same principle applies for mass market cars, physical distribution services, food retailing, any commodity product or service at all.

        If you think that state provision of all these items is a good idea, then put your hand up.

        1. PlacidCasual

          Re: Price fixing cartel@Ledswinger

          Cars and food are markets with large amounts of product differentiation. Even individual models of one manufacturers cars are sold with different options. Different technologies can be used in the product itself. If only one single model of car was being made the same way by all manufacturers the comparison would be true, otherwise I think it breaks down. Nationalised car companies failed to compete but I think nationalised power monopolies could be cost comparable with privatised ones.

        2. Dave 15 Silver badge

          Re: Price fixing cartel@PlacidCasual

          State involvement in energy and water and even potentially to mass transport (railways) is actually a good idea because these are all strategically important and have a massive impact on a nations competitive position regarding others.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comprehension Fail, Lewis

    So "the great bulk of the increase... is mostly down to [the renewal, efficiency, social elements]" and only "partly" due to "transmission and distribution charges"?

    Care to explain how you can draw that conclusion from the published statement? Yes the renewal/efficiency/social elements have increased by 50% but it doesn't say from what percentage of the total bill those elements were, just as it doesn't say what proportion of the total is affected by the 9% increase in transmission and distribution charges.

    It is quite possible that "the other 9 percent" is mostly down to the transmission and distribution charges. In fact I'd suggest that was in fact quite likely. But hey, that doesn't fit your agenda does it?

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Comprehension Fail, Lewis

      "It is quite possible that "the other 9 percent" is mostly down to the transmission and distribution charges."

      But why are transmission and distribution costs rising? A major reason is renewables. It would make little sense for it to be any other reason. Distribution costs per unit of energy is higher for small, distributed renewable generation, often in remote locations, is always going to be higher. Without them, we should be seeing distribution costs falling.

      I am all for renewable energy generation. The way it is being paid for, however, is not fair or sustainable. I know many people who are already on the bread line, have reduced their energy consumption to the minimum and insulated their houses. Turning on the heating has become a luxury they can't afford. Having a hot shower is a luxury. Even washing clothes is becoming more and more of a problem.

      If we are going to subsidise renewables (and I think we should, along with building new nuclear and encouraging shale gas and other alternatives), it should be done through the tax system, not by whacking the cost onto energy bills.

      1. Joseph Lord

        Re: Comprehension Fail, Lewis

        > If we are going to subsidise renewables (and I think we should, along with building new nuclear and encouraging shale gas and other alternatives), it should be done through the tax system, not by whacking the cost onto energy bills.

        I agree but you don't explain why this should happen which is that it would be fairer and more transparent. Heating costs make a bigger proportion of spending for low income families than high income families. That makes shifting of tax collection from government to energy companies is an effective benefit cut and tax rise that will disproportionately hit the poorest. It also keeps inflation higher than it would otherwise be hitting savers and subsidising those with mortgages.

        1. Dr. Mouse

          Re: Comprehension Fail, Lewis

          "I agree but you don't explain why this should happen"

          Sorry about that. Yes, you have explained exactly why.

          1. Jediben
            Stop

            Re: Comprehension Fail, Lewis

            The introduction of widespread 'DIY energy generation' by all the solar panels on rooftops across the country actually incurs cost to the distribution networks as well - the standard model of energy flowing only one way is disrupted and this change needs to be managed, implemented and calculated on the grid.

            This costs the distribution network providers as well, as you've then got to design a system that will handle it, fit relevant hardware for metering, costing etc and this will cause charges to rise.

            Although it's greener it cannot occur for free!

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Comprehension Fail, Lewis

        >encouraging shale gas

        Ha Ha!

        You do realise that the total UK extractable shale gas reserves have been estimated (by the British Geological Survey) to be sufficient to satisfy the UK's current total gas consumption for 18 months ....

  7. fix
    FAIL

    None-Oil Options

    But none of this extra funding gained by hiking the energy cost is going towards Nuclear :-( In this country at least.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: None-Oil Options

      Not yet. But the incompetent thieves of government have been looking at how they can hike overall prices to make nuclear "economic" without being caught by Brussels over state aid. The carbon floor tax is part of this, and if the government have their way this will be put on what they euphemistically refer to as "an escalator", so you'll see above inflation rises for the next two decades.

      The anti-energy company whiners can't see it, but about a fifth of their bill is now due to government mandate, and by 2020 around forty per cent will be. So your energy prices are going to need to go up by around 30% in the next ten years, to satisfy the tree huggers. Meanwhile, China continues to commission new coal plants to supply factories making tat for export. What do you think they know that DECC doesn't?

  8. earl grey
    Flame

    Don't import more oil

    Just burn coal.

    we're all out of coal.

    No, we just closed the mines and threw all the miners out of work; there's plenty of coal.

    try burning it cleaner. DOH

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't import more oil

      You cant burn it cleaner, simple chemistry, perfect combustion Fully Oxidized Carbon to CO2 which is the problem. You need to scrub the emissions to extract the Carbon dioxide and react it with something else to fix the carbon back into another compound.. this is what costs the extra money.

      1. Lord of Cheese
        Trollface

        Re: Don't import more oil

        But why do you need to scrub the emissions to remove CO2?

    2. A J Stiles
      FAIL

      Re: Don't import more oil

      Um, no there isn't.

      Britain's coal mines are pretty much worked-out. Which is why Thatcher closed them down in the first place: extracting coal locally was costing more than importing it from abroad. Every day, the miners were coming back up with just a little less coal than they had the day before. You won't find anybody in the former mining industry willing to admit it, because they all hoped to hang onto their jobs right up to the moment when it finally became impossible to deny the obvious. But the evidence is there (or rather, it isn't, because it's all been burned by now).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Meh

        Re: Don't import more oil@A J Stiles

        "Um, no there isn't."

        Oh yes there is! The problem with the UK coal industry wan't a lack of coal, it was antediluvian working practices, medieval industrial relations, and the availability of cheap coal from large open cast mines in cheap labour locations.

        Not only are there around 100 million tonnes of onshore coal, but there's probably ten times that under the North Sea. None of it economic at current prices with current deep mining technology, mind you.

        1. A J Stiles

          Re: Don't import more oil@A J Stiles

          Whatever else was wrong with Thatcher, nobody could accuse her of not knowing her science.

          Before the miners' strike of 1984, coal was "The Fuel of the Future". Having just witnessed the beginning of the robotisation of car manufacture, it's fairly obvious that Thatcher had her mind set on robotising coal mining. As long as there is coal to be dug up, machines could simply continue digging it up with minimal human intervention. Building the machines in the first place is obviously going to be more expensive than paying people to do the job by hand; but machines don't need to sleep for 8 hours a day, and they don't go on strike. Lessons learned from building the first generation of mining robots can be applied to the next. It's pretty much a no-brainer.

          And the only reason not to go ahead with such a project was hidden in the third sentence of the preceding paragraph.

          Britain's coal reserves had long been massively overstated. Reporting the true level had never been in anybody's best interests anyway: not the miners (who would have lost their jobs) and not the bosses (who would have lost their contracts). Best for all concerned to keep quiet until it became impossible to conceal any longer; because the consequences would have been exactly the same anyway.

      2. Trevor Marron

        Re: Don't import more oil

        Current estimates of UK coal reserves are just under 3.2 billion tonnes. There is plenty of coal, just no will to allow large open-cast projects as they would upset the country folks (who typically vote Tory) and deep mines would take a large investment with no short term gains before they hit profit, which would be about 15 years for full production.

        The only way we can resolve the energy issue is to nationalise deep mine coal production and get digging.

    3. Trevor Marron

      Re: Don't import more oil

      Yes, but Thatcher made sure none of those mines could be re-opened. So the cost of getting that coal is now prohibitive. We could be mining coal in this country for about £66 a tonne if the mines were still open. Imported coal of the same quality is currently about £81 a tonne.

      Not only do you have to multiply up the difference over millions of tonnes, you also have to factor in the savings in benefits etc. to those in areas where mining used to take place, the reduction in natural gas use for power generation etc.

      We are still paying for the war against the miners, and we will for the rest of our lives.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Don't import more oil

        >but Thatcher made sure none of those mines could be re-opened. So the cost of getting that coal is now prohibitive.

        And in so doing accidentally create a challenge and job opportunities for modern day engineers .... :))

      2. JimC

        Re Paying for the War against the Miners

        However the people who are not paying are the miners. We no longer have regular mining disasters nor so many diseased lungs. The price of coal was a very high one, and a lot of people owe their lives and health to the closing of the mines.

        The failure was in finding new jobs to replace those bloody awful ones, but that's a general problem, not unique to the mining communities.

        But I for one am happy that deep mining is largely gone until such a time that it can be almost completely run by robots. No sensible man ever wanted his son to follow him down the pit.

    4. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: Don't import more oil

      Burn coal... oh but the EU have told us we can't, and of course they rule this country now. No we mustn't rely on our own resources for energy we must import our energy from Russia (our new best friends - the people with the oh so open and transparent political system and tolerance) or from France (always our friends, never do anything to get their revenge for sinking the navy they wanted to give the nazis).

      And of course the european owned energy firms are happy to screw the uk and do what the eu tell them. Hence Didcot closing... along with several others - more British workers on the dole, more reliance on imports for basics.

      I'm afraid the coalition is as completely hopeless as the last labour mal administration.

  9. TrishaD

    @AC

    "Yes the renewal/efficiency/social elements have increased by 50% but it doesn't say from what percentage of the total bill those elements were, just as it doesn't say what proportion of the total is affected by the 9% increase in transmission and distribution charges."

    Percentage of the total bill for those elements is about 5%.

    Rather changes the perspective, doesnt it?

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    F'em

    I've gort my plantation of ash trees to keep me warm.

    Virus what virus?

    Oh shit well I'll just have to pretend to cut and stack wood - I've found that doing that gets me fitter and I don't need the heating most of the time.

    But seriously if you can do a bit more excercise its a win - win situation for you.

    Must go patent the iBitch pedal powered 'have a tablet' device.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because they say its the reason...

    Does not make it so. Simply they are putting the prices up to protect their profits from being eroded by the extra spending.

  12. NomNomNom

    we should genetically engineer new breeds of children that are more resistant to cold

    1. Cosmo
      Devil

      I think that's what McDonalds super size meals are for - The extra fat is good insulation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I don't know... Big Macs have shrunk in size over the years.

      2. Prof Denzil Dexter
        FAIL

        As a certified bit of a tubber, I can attest to never needing the heating on.

        also, i can have a full bath with 2 litres of water. thus saving on water and heat.

        save the world. eat a cake. (well, lots of cakes)

  13. chris lively
    FAIL

    To me the real fail is a forced move to alternative energy.

    Go ahead and let the oil run out. At some point during that process prices would naturally drive up to the point that transfer to alternative sources would make sense. That's how capitalism works: prices of something rise, alternatives are brought to market. That model works very well.

    Currently there is no reason to force the issue. Well, no reason other than to prop up bad business plans and reward failed initiatives. While, in the process, hurting the consumers.

    1. Lord of Cheese
      Pint

      I'll drink to that! Cue horde of watermelons incoming......

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Mushroom

      "Go ahead and let the oil run out"

      That would work in the sense that the market WOULD correct, companies would invest in renewables anyway etc... BUT in this scenario instead of prices going up 10% at a time every few years, they would spike by hundreds or thousands of percent, and poorer people would have absolutely no-zero-nada-zilch access to any sort of energy.

      I suspect that at that point instead of sitting in a corner and quietly dying off, they would storm the castle gates. Either way it won't be pretty

    3. A J Stiles

      "Go ahead and let the oil run out. At some point during that process prices would naturally drive up to the point that transfer to alternative sources would make sense."

      That would be a bit like what is happening right now, only worse.

      If we weren't making some effort to manage the transition to renewable energy, then the price of fossil fuels would remain fairly constant ..... then suddenly increase tenfold. That's 900%. In one go, without warning. And you'd have no choice but to pay it.

      For all the talk of renewables being subsidised, the reality is that all our lives, fossil fuels have been effectively subsidised; we haven't had to worry about the replacing what we've used up, nor have we been covering anything like the full cost of cleaning up the damage they do. We ran out of coal, we've nearly run out of oil. For all their faults, renewables will soon be all we have left.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Megaphone

        @ A J Stiles

        "We ran out of coal,"

        Oi! There's around 860 billion tonnes of known coal reserves worldwide, mostly excluding subsea formations that would probably treble that number, and noting that there's large tracts of the planet where nobody has bothered to look for coal.

        I'll put this in capitals because you're missing it: THERE IS NO SHORTAGE OF HYDROCARBON FOSSIL FUELS. What there is a declining reserve of cheap to produce, convenient to handle forms of hydrocarbon, in particular light crude oil. That's probably more than offset for a few decades by the increasing reserves (ie we're finding it faster than we're using it) of gas, where there's currently around 200 trillion cubic metres of gas reserves, with probably a lot more in the form of shale gas that isn't currently classified in the reserves. Remaining oil reserves are going to be more expensive to produce (eg deep sea and sub-salt reserves), and more difficult to use cleanly and efficiently (for example oil sands), but this idea of "running out tomorrow" is not correct. In the next decade some Gulf Coperation Council countries will begin to stop exporting oil (due to rising domestic use and falling output) and there will then be total panic over Peak Oil, and the idea of "running out of oil" will become a mainstream belief, but it's essentially incorrect.

        Even when that lot has been exhausted there's trillions of tonnes of hydrocarbons left, in the shape of gas hydrates and oil and tar shales, none of which can be extracted economically at present (and we'd need new technologies, not just price rises to be able to do that.

        So, fossil fuels - finite, but plenty around. Costs going to rise as we've used the good quality cheap stuff first, and on both counts makes sense to develop renewables. But the cost of renewables needs to fall, and we need to fix the energy storage problem. Sadly the UK is doing very, very little on developing energy storage (compared to say the US or Germany). Meanwhile, instead of proper science and engineering research into energy storage the UK government fritters our research budget on more and more studies by geographers and other pseudo-scientists to prove that climate change is going to kill us all.

  14. PyLETS
    Flame

    Carbon burning is increasingly highly subsidised

    Had a look at your insurance bills recently ? The cost of weird weather is how this subsidy gets collected and it affects all of us. Very happy for renewables to compete on a level playing field, but oil, gas and coal have to pay their externalities before we'll have one of those.

    1. Lord of Cheese
      FAIL

      Re: Carbon burning is increasingly highly subsidised

      Sorry but that statement is nonsense and without evidence. It's is all part of the effort by the usual ecomentalist suspects to reframe the global waming meme that is currently stalling as global weirding.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never a fan

    ... of the process where someone starts with a conclusion they looks for facts that support their conclusion.

    and yeah, we see it as much from skeptics like Lewis as we do Greens, "oh no, look at the rain - that's climate change that is"

    It does make me wonder if your arguments are that strong in the first place.

  16. MR J

    They dont break down how much transmission cost or "green carbon" stuff accounts for in the other 50%.

    Using what values are given...

    Fuel makes up 50%

    Transmission must makes up 39% of the cost

    Other stuff makes up 11% of the cost.

    Green is lumped in there with the "other stuff".. So of that 11% rise, 5.5% is "other stuff"

    Other stuff can include pensions, new ceo cost, holidays to the hamptons... But that aside, let us say all the 5.5% is just due to green tech.

    their revinue in 2011 was somewhere around £6.3 billion, so assuming the same sort of revinue this year (plus 11%) puts them around £7bn. That means this year they will spend £770 million on green tech, and only spent £513 million last year.

    All revinues last from the big companys were around £45 billion, if the same breakdown worked for everyone then that means they paid out £3.67 billion to carbon tech last year and are looking to do nearly £5.5 billion this year.

    As a guess the average solar PV install for 2011 (prior to big cut) will pay about £1400 a year, so this increase is getting blamed on green carbon stuff again. With less than 160k solarpv installs in the UK then the cost will not be in excess of £225 million. Where is the other £5.3 billion... Cavity walls??

    1. PlacidCasual

      @ MrJ

      I haven't investigated your figures, but much of the green spend is on renewable obligation certificates for onshore wind, offshore wind and increasingly bio fuels (wood mostly).

      Drax, Ironbridge, Tilbury are all large coal plants capable of burning millions of tonnes of wood a year. In addition many small bio fuel plants are under construction Markinch (sp?) in Scotland for instance. All are doing so to milk the renewable subsidies.

      PV is not the biggest cost wind and bio fuel probably out do it by several orders of magnitude.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So that free cavity wall and loft insulation is paid for by me!

    Well done. Very well done!

    You couldn't get anyone to insulate their homes. You offer "Free" insulation and take up rockets.

    So in reality, I have paid for my insulation, and then some.

    Sneeky like an apple apology or any tory policy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Obviously

      "So that free cavity wall and loft insulation is paid for by me!"

      Yes. But at least energy customers get the benefit from the levy on their bill. But with renewables, only the owner of the generating plant benefits.

      And as of next year, the steaming pile of ordure that is "Green Deal" is coming in, under which insulating your house won't be cheap or free, but will be at full commercial cost, recovered through your electricity bill with an 8% loan. It's a stinker. And I say that as somebody who is employed in a role very close to the scheme, hence AC.

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Zmodem

    the solution is once more here http://community.discovery.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/7501919888/m/24319443111

  20. Campbell
    Unhappy

    Once again

    said before and saying it again. We need to find a new way to generate electricty not find not fuels for turbines.

    Surely the boffinry out there have some ideas?

    Besides, and no one talks about this, private companies exist to increase, or at the very least maintain, shareholder value. Doesn't matter if you shave your consumption to the wire where every milliWatt is a prisoner, your fuel bills will go UP. Now you don't see anyone talking about that! Why?

    The solution? Move power station/generation to Public domain? Have the Government seize power generation from the foreign nationals on the grounds of national security?

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Once again

      "We need to find a new way."

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/10/23/the-case-for-near-term-commercial-demonstration-of-the-integral-fast-reactor/#more-5949

      Well here is Professor Barry Brook, who is currently at the 2012 World Energy Forum together with several more well-respected boffins. He continues to make a powerful case for nuclear generation, with Gen IV reactors burning up plutonium and other long-lived waste.

  21. gary27
    Thumb Up

    hopefully a wake-up call from our mass delusion

    maybe this will be a wakeup call to politicians and the idiots at the bbc, but don’t hold your breath

    co2 is not poison - co2 is good for life - in any case amount is tiny 0.039 %

    most warming affect has already been done - does not increase linearly because of saturation of spectrum affected by co2

    water vapour is main greenhouse gas 80%+ not co2

    warm periods good for humans - ice age bad !

    90% of ocean volume is below 2 degrees centigrade – ice age risk/damage much worse than a degree or 2 warmer - such as experienced roman times when populations grew fast before crashing in following colder periods

    climate models are a joke - too many variables therefore impossible with current tech - we can’t predict the weather in 5 days let alone 50 years

    the cycles that appear most regular all point towards cooling - not warming - logically therefore we should encourage warming not the opposite!

    one thing I can predict for sure is - in 50 years our children will wonder what on earth we were all on – they will wonder why did we behave so idiotically - building pointless stupid windmills, putting pathetically inefficient yet expensive solar cells on our roofs in the grey cold cloudy uk - whilst half of the planets still suffers dreadful poverty – whilst most of us struggle to pay huge tax burdens imposed by our politicians - who have no idea how to make anything of value - but who are masters at dreaming up more and more idiotic ways of spending our hard earned money

  22. randommagic

    Every country needs a steady stream of electricity. More in the winter or when Coronation Street has an advert and all the kettles go on. Power stations are the only method for providing this. Unless someone suddenly invents a super battery that can store huge amounts of energy created over the short time that tidal or wind power creates they are never ever going to be viable alternatives handling more than 5% of the any countries demand. As demand grows they become even less of a viability. As Oil has a limited lifespan we are left with coal or Nuclear. We could dig up the coal ( the UK has a LOT of this but again its finite) and cause the atmosphere more damage or we can do the right thing and build some Nuclear plants. No matter how green you are or how much you think its the right thing to do it just isn't viable and we could never build enough wind farms or wave machines to keep up with the huge demand that is increasing all of the time. Until we can invent cheap unlimited energy we should ensure that we can provide for the next 20 years or the cost we are paying will just keep climbing as resources fall.

  23. MachDiamond Silver badge

    mashup

    Don't fixate on the "billions" that the energy companies make. They are large corporations that service many customers. A better gauge of their health is the net profit as a percentage of gross. If it's 50%, go ahead and chastise them. If it's 20%, they are a healthy, well run company. If it's 5%, their accountants have found some very good off-shore tax havens and can cook the books very well. Those are the guys I want figuring my tax returns.

    The "Social" costs are probably the corporate fascination and utter waste of time of employing people to develop and maintain Facebook pages and a presence on "Social" media sites. I've always wondered why electricity companies advertise. In the US, you really don't have a choice, so advertising doesn't accomplish anything. The same for sponsorship of concert and sports venues.

    Thorium LFTR reactors are very promising but have incomplete development. The Chinese will go live with their LFTR test reactor in 2013. I'm sure they will be happy to license the patents to the rest of the world when they have a proven system ready. Not that the Chinese respect anyone else's patents. Pressurized Water Reactors, breeders of almost all designs that I know of and Fast reactors all have safety issues. Most of the issues are well contained and understood. The problem is when you run into the political dictates that lead to Fukishima's disastrous cock up of putting the backup generators in harms way against the recommendations of competent engineers, plants located on flood plains and other stupidity. Coal power plants put out more radioactivity than nuke plants ever have. Slag piles are filthy with radiation.

    Petrol is not used for commercial power generation! The news media and other idiots always talk about lessening dependence on imported oil by reducing electrical usage. The only power plants that use petroleum are old, used only as emergency back up and are being converted to run on natural gas or being torn out.

    Natural gas is not "clean". It is cleaner than coal, but that really isn't saying a whole lot. Burning hydrocarbons produces CO2. Natural gas isn't any different. Incomplete combustion of CH4 leads to the whole cast of nasty oxides you get with every thing else.

    Good news: Engineers in the UK are very talented. I watched a show on the national grid and was impressed about a story of pumped storage. When there is too much wind power being generated, the power is used to pump water uphill into reservoirs. Need a burst of power, open the gates at the hydro plant; generating and supplying the grid in 30 seconds. Yeah, yeah it's not super efficient, but it's simple, works and what the hell, the power isn't doing anything else. There's a grid sized battery that we have the technology for now. Let's build more. The added bonus is that we can restrict the flow of fresh water into the sea.

    In the US there are also some good ideas on what to do with surplus wind power or generation at sites that are inconveniently far from users. Take some water and some air, apply the Haber-Bosch process and you have ammonia. A nice convenient liquid that can be used as a cleaning agent, a fertilizer and the feed stock for di-methyl-ester, a substitute for diesel. We'll just down play ammonia's use in explosives. There are studies that show that producing ammonia with wind turbines can be more profitable than selling the electricity to the grid.

    I don't want to see power companies get nationalized. That would throw a spanner into the works worse than the greed of the corporate bosses. There is also a good case of not leaving electricity to twist in the wind of market forces, speculation and the aforementioned corporate greed. All I know is that electricity (energy, if you want an all encompassing term) is vital to the health of an economy. I should say that steady and consistent cost for electricity is healthy for an economy. Small increases from time to time can be absorbed, but large swings create problems.

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution to an energy policy. It will take a whole menu of generation, storage and supply technologies. There always seems to be loads of argument that one technology or another will not work in a certain area or won't fulfill all of the future needs, but there doesn't need to be ONE technology to fit everything. Solar where solar will work, wind where there is wind, tidal power, geothermal, nuclear, natural gas and even coal. I'm not opposed to putting prison inmates in giant hamster wheels connected to generators. Whatever works.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Ho hum - Dinorwig doesn't scale

      Well, it could, but we'd need to flood most of the Scottish highlands to cover wind doldrums.

      While you might find some people in favour of that, oddly enough the locals don't like the idea.

      Although Salmond might as it's one way the Scottish could afford independence, rather like Labour and the ConDems on wind and PV - hell bent on it regardless of cost or feasibility.

      Presumably it's a political thing - get into politics and your brain is surgically removed, making you incapable of considering consequences beyond the next election.

      The next Parliament is going to be seriously ****ed though, as that seems to be when the lack of energy security is likely to come home to roost.

  24. Quixote

    There will be more people in fuel poverty, surely?

    I have to take issue with the statement: "Nothing much has changed in the area of social-inclusion schemes as applied to the energy market: various disadvantaged groups (old folk on low incomes, for instance) still exist and still get cheaper energy which the rest of us pay for through increases on our bills, but there aren't suddenly more of these people...".

    On the contrary, as windmills drive up the price of electricity, there will of course be more people falling into fuel poverty (ie spending >10% of their household income on fuel) and qualifying for help under the social inclusion schemes, namely the Warm Homes Discount and the Community Energy Savings Programme. This latter provides energy efficiency services such as installing new boilers and heating appliances, along with loft and cavity wall insulation.

    The Big Five energy companies are obliged to fund this huge industry under the terms of the Energy Act 2010, and of course they pass on their costs to the diminishing number of customers who are not yet in fuel poverty -- namely hard-working families.

    I wonder whether people are aware of the underlying government deception here. The inordinate cost of renewable energy, the relief of fuel poverty and the subsidies on insulation and boilers are in effect a fuel tax, and then there is 5% VAT on top of that. Thus the government gets away without increasing VAT, welfare benefits or expenditure on its climate change policies, and the Big Five energy companies get the blame for profiteering.

    All this so that David Cameron (whose father-in-law makes a packet in rent for the wind farm on his land) can announce to the world that the UK has the most stringent carbon reduction targets in the world. Makes you proud to be British, doesn't it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There will be more people in fuel poverty, surely?

      "The Big Five energy companies are obliged to fund this huge industry under the terms of the Energy Act 2010, and of course they pass on their costs to the diminishing number of customers who are not yet in fuel poverty -- namely hard-working families."

      See post above that refers to Green Deal. CERT and CESP come to an end this year, and are replaced by the ECO (wanky new abbreviation for energy company obligation), but that's going to help even fewer people.

      The fundamental problem here is not energy prices, they're high for a reason, and if you don't like it you have to use less. This is what government think with middle income people like me. For the selected poor, they don't like that outcome. So they want to stop the market working. Many might agree with that, but the way to fix that is not for DECC to fuck around with the energy market, but for the government to fix the broken welfare system. Why should poor people get money from complicated, expensive to adminster schemes in the power industry, when there's already mechanisms in place to dole out money to them from the government?

      If companies have to hand things free to the poor, let's hand out fixed volumes of power to them from the energy companies, free water (paid for by other cusotmers) food vouchers from Tesco (paid for by Tesco's other customers), bus passes (paid for by the bus companies other customers). And then we can stop the dole altogether.

      1. Quixote

        Re: There will be more people in fuel poverty, surely?

        "CERT and CESP come to an end this year, and are replaced by the ECO". At least the name "Energy Company Obligation" says what it is, and so should be transparent. Its abbreviation ECO, however, sounds so green and fuzzy that people won't see it for what it is -- privatised welfare -- and I rather suspect the term "Energy Company Obligation" was chosen for this reason.

  25. Akhenaten

    There is no case or point in promoting ANY new energy technology which does not outperform the present best and cleanest ( eg natural gas produced by fracking)

    The hard pressed public has a right and duty to punish ANY politician who by his policy avoidably raises the cost of energy for households.

    Renewable energy sources are unreliable and require heavy subsidisation by legalised Governmental theft ( ie hidden subsidies and price rises).. When these sources are naturally as inexpensive, independent of foreign suppliers, and as reliable as gas, let us consider them, Until that day, their political/ideogical proponents should be ejected from public office of any kind. We can no longer afford to tolerate fools and knaves in charge of our lives.

    Such dishonesty is a characterisitic of politicians in general and of "Green" ones in particlar, since their true agenda is NOT the welfare of millions of human beings, but the creation of a new class of impoverished subjects, over whom they may prevail as a self imposed elite..

    They must be made to pay the price of rejection and ostracism by an oppressed public. It is no good waiting until revolution is the only cure.

    Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EDF sold off their distribution system to a HK company for £B6, so Tough Titty they can't control the distribution costs

    1. Jediben
      Thumb Up

      I love UK Power Networks :)

  27. Florence

    World's largest* nuclear electricity producer has a go at renewables...

    Who would have thought?

    Well clearly not Lewis, although I wouldn't put it past him to conveniently ignore it.

    *OK not 100% sure there, but the world's largest electricity producer according to 2010 figures, that mostly generates electricity from nuclear technology, and keeps on pushing for nuclear.

  28. takuhii

    "The other 9 per cent, the great bulk of the increase, is mostly down to "renewable, energy efficiency and social schemes" and partly from "transmission and distribution charges"."

    But green energy is more expensive than "regular" energy, at least the Green energy I have looked into supplying my home with, so why should the buyers of "regular" energy offset this, if green energy is, in most cases, twice as expensive as "regular" energy???

  29. Alan Brown Silver badge

    lots of shouting here, as usual

    There is more milage in energy efficiency than in alternative energy supplies - and the pathologocal aversion to nuclear is resulting in enormous wastage - perfectly viable fueal sources are considered "spent" because they contain plutonium.

    Much as I _want_ wind and solar to work, I can't see how they can unless there's much more investment in storage systems (how about small float batteries in houses to cater to surges like putting the kettle on?) and dynamic load control down to the level of shutting down domestic appliances during load peaks.

    The current setup is a recipe for pain because of the massive infrastructuere overbuild required, along with rapid-start generation capacity. There's no way a coordinated approach will happen with 50 different groups all pulling in different directions - and is this last item which is raising costs without getting anything worthwhile in return.

  30. Dave 15 Silver badge

    cartel

    There is a cartel operating in a pretty much essential commodity. I am surprised that 10% seems to be the max these folk think they can get away with, they really aren't trying hard enough.

    But then again, I suppose it equates to 10% rise every 4 months or so... so over all in a year its pretty good.

    There really is only one answer and that is the one that the rich landed folk in government (including Labour, LibDem and Conservative) won't implement. The one answer would be to renationlise these companies. That way they may continue to make excessive profit but it would go to the exchequer and off our tax bill. They might even invest in ensuring energy supply for the future. Hell, if the government is in charge they might even reconsider bending over and letting the EU screw our energy supply by demanding the closure of perfectly good power stations. One last thing for the doubters - even if the company manages to become 'inefficient' by employing 10x the staff they do now and those people just wander around with a spanner in their pocket it will mean we pay less tax as we will have less unemployed - and if this is a UK government company it is possible to expect (ok, we it is possible to dream) that the people it employs and the tools, machines and buildings are BRITISH instead of French or German. And we will stop subsidising French and German power (including the power supplied to their business - i.e. if you are a Vauxhall plant in the UK you will be paying more than the BMW plant in Munich for your German owned energy so strangely won't be as competitive as your German counter part.

    Nationalisation is the ONLY option that makes sense.

  31. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Other costs of high energy

    The cost of production of any realistic manufactured goods is:

    Energy

    Machinery costs

    Finance costs for the machinery and late paid bills

    Land

    Factory buildings

    with people coming a long way further down the page.

    The ridiculous cost of energy is crippling any chance of recovery in our manufacturing companies. Worse the energy companies are all foreign so do better deals for their own country,

    As for greenhouse gasses, lets look at where my contribution comes from... the drive to and from the office, the office lights, heating, air conditioner (both on all the time, in a poorly built and poorly insulated building with several acres of non-double glazed windows, no roof insulation and masses of room below my feet and above my head), the lights in the bathrooms, corridors and reception area. The amount I produce at home with my heating is trivial by comparison.

  32. Another Ben
    Flame

    How to lie with statistics

    If you actually look at the relevant figures, which are not even in the footnotes to the press release but on <a href="http://www.edfenergy.com/products-services/for-your-home/customer-commitments/what-

    makes-up-bill.shtml">this web page</a>, which is cited (thought not actually linked) in the footnotes.

    The cost of environmental and social schemes may have increased by 50%, but this is from a base of 4% (for gas) or 8% (for electricity) of the cost to the consumer. The transmission costs have apparently risen by 9% on a basis of 25% (for gas) or 22% (for electricity). So the contributions to the overall increase are pretty similar, and appear to leave something of a gap still to be explained.

    To get from this to 'The other 9 per cent, the great bulk of the increase, is mostly down to "renewable, energy efficiency and social schemes" and partly from "transmission and distribution charges".' is quite a leap, rather than simply a restatement "in other words".

    So we have a self-serving EDF press release reported by a journalist with an axe to grind. Just as well no-one is actually reading it instead of trotting out the same comments they make on every other article on energy or climate change.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gas and leccy prices

    Prices are getting dangerously close to the point where I would be better off heating my home and running my servers from a generator running on cherry. Sure I'd feel a little bad about the thin layer of soot raining down on my neighbours all day long, but all but two of them run diesel cars so it would balance out.

  34. david 63

    Here's a quiz...

    Private companies are queuing up to put private money into building nuclear power stations because they know they will get their money back when they go on stream.

    Wind farms and solar installers are holding their hands out for sponsorship from your taxes and your power bills.

    Which works best for you?

    Everybody who downvotes needs to be made to sit in the dark until the wind blows...but not too hard.

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