Lower energy bills or frozen bills?

Shortly we will see the Coalition offer on our energy bills. Current briefing suggests we can look forward to a £50 cut in the bill from the Coalition. This outbids the promise of a freeze from Labour should they win the 2015 election. Their promise does not explain how they would stop big rises before and after the freeze.

The Coalition is unlikely to offer the full £100 plus of green costs off the bills. The Lib Dems have been fighting hard to keep the bills up, as they like the green costs and charges and wish to make lower carbon emissions one of the main aims of energy policy. A compromise will be brokered as a result.

Based on this exchange, I would rather have the Coalition offer, and will vote for it accordingly. Around £50 off is progress. Slowing down, revising or making cheaper some of the green programmes will help at the margin to control the power bill.

All this is, however, modest progress compared to the largest part of our electricity costs. The truth is these are firmly driven by EU policies which Mr Miliband signed up to when in office. A £50 cut in costs will be eroded over the years ahead as the full costs of many more windfarms, and the impact of the plant closures of the cheaper power stations comes to be felt in full.

The only way in the future to get lower energy bills is to generate electricity in cheaper ways. The USA has cheaper energy than us because it is embracing the shale gas revolution. For those who are preoccupied by carbon dioxide outflows, the US policy is even cutting their CO2 output at the same time, as gas displaces other fossil fuels.

Our renegotiation of our relationship with the EU has to include as a central plank the need to control our own energy policy again, so we can pursue cheaper energy. Dear EU energy is one of several unpopular issues which will persuade more people to vote to leave the EU when we finally get a vote.

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99 Comments

  1. Livelogic
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Indeed as you say:- The only way in the future to get lower energy bills is to generate electricity in cheaper ways. The USA has far cheaper energy than us because it is embracing the shale gas revolution. The UK has excellent shale gas potential perhaps better per head than the USA, coal is rather cheaper than it was too. So energy prices should be coming down were it not for all the government green crap and the vandalism of our old coal fired power stations.

    Still at least it seem we will not have to suffer Tim Yeo after 2015. Even lentil eating, greenest Suffolk seem to be coming to round to some reality. Any questions last night from Aldeburgh had Baroness Kramer, Stella Creasy MP, Lord Lamont, Sir Jonathon Porritt so only one voice of reason on the green crap and three people still talking “BBC think” anti science drivel. But the audience were in favour of a new nuclear facility at Sizewell only couple of miles away.

    Why do people keep believing the profits of doom like Porritt when they have already been shown to be wrong so many times already. He want wave, tidal, wind, bio and PV and so ones assumes he want energy prices to double or triple.

    People just seem to have an innate desire to believe in doom it seems.

  2. alan jutson
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Any reduction in fuel costs is to be welcolmed, but the most important thing is for us to have our own control back, and to ACT to make sure we have enough power in reserve for the Nations needs, not just kick the can down the road, as we have for decades.

    I have no problem with wind power or any other method, as long as they all stand on their own two feet, without some false and huge subsidy which raises costs to silly non competitive levels.

  3. Old Albion
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Everything that is wrong with this country can be traced back to one cause. The EU.

    • Liz Elliot-Pyle
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree, Old One. And here is Mr Redwood talking about re-negotiating our relationship, and even talking about WHEN we get a referendum.
      Neither of these is going to happen.
      Our only hope is that the whole rotten edifice implodes under the weight of its undemocratic, corrupt, unworkable dead handedness. Or, the money runs out!

      • Timaction
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        All roads of bad news and misfortune leads back to the EU. I think Douglas Carswell has prophesized that the age of misinformation, spin, propaganda that we’ve experienced from our leading politicos is coming to an end via the internet. They can no longer fool the “sheeple” all of the time and the facts and figures are out here. Its time to be straight with the electorate and act in favour of the indigenous population or get out.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        Agreed to both Liz and OA. The cursed place is a nonsense, but I have a feeling a lot of so-called hard-line ‘Eurosceptic’ MPs will soon accept a compromise position. They’ll see a re-negotiation as the best we can do, which will still effectively allow the EU’s fingers to meddle in our affairs to some extent. While they are still there, they’re still a danger, and the sickness can come back again. I can’t see much wrong with complete withdrawal from the EU, then working with them in areas of mutual interest but as an independent sovereign nation. The only way to stop something as intrinsically dangerous and iniquitous as the EU is to the British interest, is to kill the connections altogether.

        Tad

      • Jagman 84
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        The EU is Socialist – based so it will, undoubtedly, run out of money. Other peoples, of course! We need to jump ship and swim as far away before it ends up taking us down as well.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Well not quite everything. We had quite a mess even before the dreadful Heath took the UK in without consent, admittedly perhaps largely caused by the Germans and the aftermath of WW2..

      Perhaps all caused by the EU or too much left wings, top down government in general is closer.

    • uanime5
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      The increased tuition fees aren’t the fault of the EU, nor is the reduction in manufacturing.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Our problems are not only down to the EU but our subservience to it.

      Energy is bound to get more expensive if we shut down ‘polluting’ power stations without having replaced them first.

  4. Mark B
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    “The Coalition is unlikely to offer the full £100 plus of green costs off the bills.”

    It is not theirs, or yours to offer. You, and the energy suppliers have taken this money. Elections are coming up and you need to appease the masses by buying them with their own monies.

    “The truth is these are firmly driven by EU policies which Mr Miliband signed up to when in office.”

    No, the actual TRUTH is that 645 of your colleagues (excluding you and four others) not only voted for this piece of theft on peoples purses, but actually ‘gold plated’ the EU legislation, actually making it more green and more expensive than the original EU proposals.

    “Our renegotiation of our relationship with the EU has to include as a central plank the need to control our own energy policy again, so we can pursue cheaper energy.”

    I take it that you have never heard of the ‘Acquis Communautaire’ ? Energy is an EU ‘Competence/Power’. You are only fooling yourselves and the uninformed in this silly game. Similarly, the EU is making move to prevent the extraction of shale gas. What do you think of that ?

    “Greenest Government ever !”, was you dear leaders battle cry. It also turning out to be one of the most inept.

    • Mark
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      The House having divided: Ayes 463, Noes 3.

      NOES
      Chope, Mr. Christopher
      Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
      Tyrie, Mr. Andrew

      Tellers for the Noes:

      Miss Ann Widdecombe and
      Philip Davies

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm081028/debtext/81028-0021.htm

      That leaves ~150 MPs who did not vote, of whom Mr Redwood is one.

      Reply As I have said before, I spoke and wrote against this folly and abstained in person, as there was clearly no chance of winning the vote.

      • Mark
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        Finger trouble…. ~180 did not vote.

      • Mark
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
      • Denis Cooper
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that.

        I look down that page to see some of what was being said by whom five years ago, and first of all I see this from Peter Lilley:

        “I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way, but there is very little time to waste on these pleasantries. Could he explain why the business was so arranged that we had no opportunity to debate the increase by one third in the emissions reduction target from 60 per cent. to 80 per cent., even though by any calculation that must increase the cost by tens of billions of pounds, and why he refused to produce a revised impact assessment to give us any figures on what the costs and benefits are, which means that this House is voting on something that it has neither debated nor had any cost assessment on to aid its decision?”

        And then I see Miliband saying:

        “Let me pay tribute to most Members across the House for their work on the Bill, including Opposition Front Benchers for their support, encouragement and mainly constructive ideas … ”

        and:

        “It will make us the first country in the world to enshrine in law binding climate change targets that are stretching and ambitious, as they need to be – 80 per cent by 2050. They provide a scale of ambition that will enable us to play our part, with authority, in seeking a global agreement in Copenhagen at the end of next year. As Friends of the Earth has said,

        “the world’s first climate change law will also be a world class climate change law”.”

        Followed by:

        “It is very welcome that these key features of the Bill — the ambitions, the mechanisms and the need for a shift in all parts of society — have commanded near-universal consensus in this House.”

        Then I see the Tory frontbench MP Greg Clark saying:

        “I would like to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin), who first pressed for the Bill to be taken up by the Government, and my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth), who previously stood in my place.”

        Lastly I note a LibDem MP, Steve Webb, now Pensions Minister, preening himself about having got the reduction target increased from 60% to 80%, but fretting that it still might not be tough enough to “avoid the dangerous climate change that we are united in fearing” and speculating that it may become necessary to make it even tougher.

        Then I look down the “ayes” list and I see Cameron and many other senior Tories merrily voting for the destruction of our economy.

        JR, I don’t know how you can possibly attribute this just to Miliband when Clark praised Letwin for getting the government to take up the Bill in the first place and even if you chose to abstain your Tory leaders were falling over themselves to support it and possibly even outdo the LibDems in their religious fervour.

        And of course most of the MPs who were seized by collective insanity then are still in the Commons and are still just as insane now.

      • Bob
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        @JR

        As I have said before, I spoke and wrote against this folly and abstained in person, as there was clearly no chance of winning the vote.

        What is the downside of voting no, even if you know you are outnumbered ? Do the losers have to buy drinks for the winners ?

        I live in a Tory “safe seat” but it doesn’t stop me from registering my vote when the opportunity arises.

      • Mark B
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Hmm. Apologies for getting this wrong. It must of been something else and the memory slipped. I distinctly remember see Mr. Redwood’s name with four others on an ‘issue’. Will check my notes.

        Thank you for the correction, and once again apologies both to our kind host and fellow posters’.

      • lifelogic
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        What drove this collective lunacy? Are the MP just extremely daft, deluded, gullible, lacking any understanding of physics, innumerate. Do they just believe what selected “experts”, “charities” and the EU tell them, or is it perhaps rather more sinister?

        Just how many career politicians actually have “consultancies” or vested interests with so call “green” companies, “charities” or are entertained by the many grant seeking pressure groups?

        How can anyone ever have honestly thought it was a good idea to subsidise PV panels on people roofs or intermittent wind to such an extent in the cloudy UK?

        • lifelogic
          Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Rolling out new technologies such as electric cars, wind, photovoltaic, biofuels …… with huge taxpayers subsidies, before they remotely work in engineering & economic terms is just pissing others money down the drain.

          Surely MPs are not so stupid as not to realise this – so why do they do it?

          • cosmic
            Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

            It’s amazing what nonsense can be generated by the herd instinct. This compares with mass manias of the past such as Tulip Mania and stock market manias and also with the witch mania in the 1600s and end of the world manias.

            Then you have the containing and concentrating effect of the Westminster Bubble and the fact that Westminster finds it very hard to admit that a mistake of such huge dimensions has been made.

            The thing I find disturbing is that Friends Of The Earth managed to gain such influence as to play a large part in writing the wholly impractical and ruinous Climate Change Act.

      • Old Albion
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Abstained because your side wouldn’t win !!!! That confuses me……….

      • The PrangWizard
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        I’ve said this before that not voting on something you claim to have a firm view on because there is no chance of ‘winning’, sets a poor example, indicates weakness or weariness and renders your claimed position open to question.
        I’m sure you would urge people to vote Conservative in a General Election even if there was no chance of winning, and what if the question was about your wishing to hold your seat?

  5. Roger Farmer
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    While the majority of politicians sit around scratching their backsides wondering what the future of the Green Industry is to be, it has been thrown into chaos for the second time in two years. Currently the big six power companies are sitting on, by repute, a billion plus in Sterling which they have collected from the paying public and which is supposed to pay all the service providers who carry out all the green work. They have frozen any further payments until the government get their act together. Result, the industry is in limbo and in part going out of business. All pending an autumn statement clarifying just what government policy is. One may as well hand over government to remove 3 in some inner city comprehensive.

  6. Hope
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Miliband leads and Cameron will follow. Give a few insults at PMQs and he thinks we will see a difference between Old And New Labour who want to be controlled from Brussels, no thanks. I want a change and one that is conservative based, I will vote UKIP.

  7. Bert Young
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Dear energy is only one reason to exit from the EU ; there are many more reasons on top of this . I don’t want to be a part of an emulsified , bureaucratic , one size fits all EU ; a free open market is one thing – something I do identify with . The various traditions , cultures and peculiarities throughout Europe should continue uninterrupted ; the very stuff of nationhood is in its independence .

  8. Mam of Kent
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    The BBC showed a pie chart breakdown of energy bills on Newsnight.

    There was a tiny green slice [the ECO portion] represented as being the only portion over which Government has any control.
    This we were told is exclusively used for external house insulation.

    No mention was made of green levies to pay for the ridiculously high ‘feed in tariffs’ for PV and windmill ‘renewable’ energy .
    [actually not renewable -just intermittent]

    Where do these come from -general taxation ?

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Indeed the figures used by the BBC on the Green C*** issue are usually complete nonsense.

      The government used to have feed in tariffs of 43P for PV roof electricity its true wholesale commercial value (as it is intermittent anyway) is perhaps 5P KWH at best. Just kill all the subsidies now.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        And the subsidies to the oil/gas and especially the nuclear industry? How about the massive subsidies to landlords? Not against them are we?

        • Mark
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          There are NO subsidies paid to oil and gas production. They pay more taxes than any other kind of business.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            No subsidies on oil or gas? In your dreams.Getting tax breaks in an industry of constantly rising profits, not paying for the pollution caused in the use and drilling for is a massive subsidy. They profit from other industries that do not enjoy anything like their subsidies which in turn keep their profits high.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

          Baz
          Being able to set your expenses in running a business against the income obtained from that business is a fundamental that exists the world over and cannot possibly be described as a subsidy.
          If you were running your own small business, would you feel it fair to pay tax on any income you received, even if overall you made a loss after allowing for the costs incurred in running your business?

          The same logic, would be me saying you were also subsidised as you have a certain amount of tax free pay allowed before you started to pay income tax

          • Bazman
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

            You are telling us that oil companies do not receive special treatment over other companies such as manufacturing? If you are you are wrong.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

            Yes that is what I am telling you Baz.
            If you say that this is wrong then please give us the facts and figures.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

            Whilst making vast profits they are reviving various tax breaks some historic and related to exploration. Political protection and not paying for environmental damage. Mainly tax breaks not received by other industries. As I have said if you believe that the oil industry does not receive massive subsidy you are wrong.
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24833153

        • stred
          Posted December 2, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          There are no massive subsidies to landlords either. If it is HB you are calling a subsidy, this is to the tenant who, for example, is subsidised to ‘borrow’ a house worth £300,000 for around £12,000 pa after expenses, giving a 3% return. This is typical for a family house rent in the SE. This is before tax.

          In fact, this government has created much more expense and regulation for landlords, many of whom have invested in property as an alternative to ridiculous private pensions. It would be nice to ignore your ignorant statements, but a lot of people come to believe this stuff and it is taken up by politicians.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            Let us enlightened people accept (Bazman never will) that there are no subsidies to landlords but there are subsidies to the occupants of social housing. Why not, therefore, sell off all social housing, either to the sitting tenant or to a would be landlord. After that, social housing would not exist and the level of housing benefit (whether stand alone or part of universal credit) would depend on the personal circumstances of the particular person or family at the particular time. It would be means tested and last only as long as it was needed. Political problems about the fairness of the ‘bedroom tax’ would disappear.

            Object to means testing? Enoch Powell did not often intervene in the social sphere but he asked the big question: “Is there any reason why any State benefit should not be means tested?” I hope that people understand that today’s taxes fund today’s state benefits and social payments, not tomorrows. State pensions have NEVER been fully funded.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

            Landlords are subsidised by a massive increase in social housing using private landlords when council house building was reduced. There is not enough social housing so private landlord are used thsi has massive increased costs for political dogma and a nice earner for landlords especially large ones who have bought up swashes of ex council houses and are now charging the state a fortune for the same.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Increased demand for housing is not a subsidy Baz.
            You really need to look up the word subsidy in a dictionary.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

            Interesting to know how much rent would be without housing benefits ‘subsidising’ landlords incomes. Not all them are renting out luxury flats in Mayfair.

    • Mark
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      The subsidies for feed in tariffs and uneconomic sources of power are simply added in to your bill. This is done by forcing energy suppliers to buy all FiT power (whether exported to the grid or not), and any subsidised power produced on a pro-rata basis via the ROC mechanism, so as to ensure all retail suppliers are equally disadvantaged by it and have to charge to cover the cost.

      It is of course a lie that only the sums spent on subsidised insulation are under government control. The government sets the value and quantity of ROC (renewables obligation) that must be provided or paid for (failure to meet the target would result in payment to the Treasury, but this has never happened). The government mandates various other aspects of expensive energy policy as well.

      It is the government that effectively decides that we should limit the amount of power produced at a cost of £25/MWh from coal, to accommodate power at £155/MWh from offshore wind farms. The government has had no role in the falling coal price (a small recent appreciation of sterling perhaps forming an exception). The government has also had a role in imposing a lengthy delay on the exploitation of shale gas, which will serve to replace expensive imported LNG in the first instance, and thus lower gas prices.

      • stred
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

        Government policy is also to drive the cost of insulation to levels which cannot be afforded and enforcing thicknesses which are impractical to install. I used to fit wall insulation only 4cm thick including finishes and this, together with draught reduction, cut my bills in half. The insulation value was quadrupled. Now, LAs require 10cm to achieve a standard of 0.3 in relation to 0.5 for the 4cm , as diminishing returns apply. Costs are higher and space is lost. If external insulation is used costs are far higher and often there is insufficient space.

        I heard of a case where someone tried to repair the render on the end wall of a terrace. The council spotted the work and applied the 2010 Regs, requiring five inches of insulation and render on lath. The roof had to be extended to cover it. In 2016 the standards are being increased again.

        If regulators just kept out of it, many house owners would employ more tradesmen and DIY to install sensible levels of insulation. Sometimes measures such as blocking open disused chimneys can be very effective and cost nothing.

        • Mark
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

          Indeed – many of the new standards are completely uneconomic, especially when it comes to insulating the walls of older homes. The move for “zero carbon” on newbuild property is also economic nonsense. It will lead to many fewer homes being built, because the cost is a substantial element that will make the homes unaffordable to many – and it will not pay for itself in lower bills. That’s leaving aside whether you’d want to live in a property with fewer windows than in the days of window tax, and no ventilation etc.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

            The house builders need to up their game like car manufactures do. You would say the same about model T Fords being to expensive to improve if you could.

    • stred
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      The BBC News reporter again explained that “the government only has control of a small proportion of the bill” again today (sunday). In truth they have set up much of the increased cost and doing their best to increase it further. For instance they are planning to build an undersea link to Iceland, so that they can sell us geothermal power. In the book adopted by DECC this would only be able to make a small contribution to overall generation. In addition to the undersea link it would be necessary to add overland pylons to the main users. Very economical for the customer!

      • Man of Kent
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks to lifelogic , Bazman , stred and Mark above for your helpful answers and remarks.

        It is difficult to get at the truth in what the BBC says since it wilfully mis represents pretty well everything to do with the EU and climate change.

        Their basic line in politics is that public expenditure is good [regardless of what it is spent on] and private enterprise is bad [in spite of the huge good it does]

        They were/are doing their best to paint energy firms as all bad and that government expenditure/contractual,EU obligations that increase household bills are ,if not applauded, out of the spotlight.

  9. Man of Kent
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Whoops I’m a man !

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      But I expect that in this day and age you can still be a mam …

  10. matthu
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    We all know why energy bills have been going up.

    We also know that energy DECC ministers have been less than candid with the facts over a number of years. Facts about climate change. Facts about weather extremes. Facts about the cost ‘savings’ of green technologies. Facts about green jobs ‘reducing’ unemployment.

    And despite (or perhaps because of) having expressed his pleasure recently at being cleared by Parliament’s sleaze watchdog over newspaper allegations that he offered help to a fake solar power company, Tim Yeo has now been dropped by his local constituency.

    Why does it take a local constituency to show the way? The public are not idiots: we are deeply concerned when our parliamentary representatives (and in particular DECC ministers) so seldom seem to be acting impartially when examining policy in subject areas in which they are also commercially involved.

    But this does not seem to concern MPs to the same extent – which only goes to show how out of touch they remain with the electorate.

    • Chris
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      There is videoclip in an article on Tim Yeo on Huffington Post, where you can see and hear Tim Yeo. Ordinary people can make up their minds, independent of the Committee verdict, whether they believe that he has acted with propriety.

  11. oldtimer
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    In my opinion this “offer” is no more than tinkering with the issue to counter the Miliband “price freeze” ploy. The coalition, in particular Messrs Cameron and Clegg, remain fully committed to their green agenda and renewable energy programme. Miliband will counter the “offer” by proposing even more draconian controls on the energy industry to ensure that his ruinous policies, embodied in his Climate Change Act, are fulfilled.

    It will take far more than 30,000 or more premature deaths of those unable to afford their winter heating bills to cause a real change in policy.

  12. matthu
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    By the way, while we are on the topic of local constituencies deselecting MPs, what happened to the rather good idea of local constituencies being able to recall members of parliament?

    I thought this idea of recall had been supported by both the Conservative Party and the LibDems? I guess if it had been in operation now, half of the DECC would be having to explain themselves to their local contituency parties.

    Ah well, it seemed like a good idea at the time of the last election, but we won’t necessarily believe these promises next time, will we?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      The idea was that local constituents should be able to recall their MP, not the local constituency party, although of course it would be possible for the latter to start the recall petition for the former to sign.

      What happened to it?

      First Cameron ripped the guts out of the proposal by saying that the first step must be for a committee of other MPs to decide whether or not the behaviour of an MP justified exposing him to recall by his constituents, and then its corpse was buried in the coalition agreement and quietly forgotten.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8677933.stm

      “The parties will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP was found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.”

      Another broken promise.

  13. Neil craig
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Cheap Energy + Economic Freedom = Prosperity

    Far from the “Green crap” being less than 10% of bills it is over 90%. Far from Cameron wishing to remove it he, like Labour and the LDs, are actively trying to increase it.

    11% is the levies.
    20% increase se in is the increase in distribution cost due to having to build new lines to link up to the windmills.
    60% is the difference between current nuclear power and the average of the basket of power we use, driven up by windmills.
    72% is how much cheaper the Chinese equivalent of Hinkley point is.
    48% is how much the return to Hinkley must be driven up to make up for it taking 10 instead of 3 years to build.
    3 fold is how much cheaper nuclear plants would be if they were allowed to be mass produced.

    In theory that should bring the cost down to 1.3%, which MAY be optimistic, but at least 90% political parasitism is unarguable.

    • stred
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Neil Craig. These points are valid. There was a recent link here to a paper by Prof Dieter Helm on the effect of a price freeze. Among his findings were the effect of the change from companies selling electricity into the’pool’ and the new more complicated system, which is needed in order to switch between unreliable wind and other suppliers, with compensation for not producing and higher prices for renewable stations, such as wood pellets users. These are now some of the biggest ex coal stations. The cost of the electricity before the sales side adds 5% is therefore bigger and the resons for cost increases are obscured.

      Also, in Northern Ireland they have a simpler system which leads to the companies making 2% profit instead of 5%. He questions why the switching and billing of power should receive the same levelof profit as a supermarket handling and transporting thousands of different goods.

      Also,that shortages lead to higher priced power.

      This negotiation to knock of a bit in competition between the parties that created the rises and more is a joke.

  14. forthurst
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    “The USA has cheaper energy than us because it is embracing the shale gas revolution.”

    I saw a programme on the telly last night in which a woman in Texas found that sometimes no water came out of her tap and that at other times, methane came out which was demonstrably flammable. She became very concerned at the possibility that the toxic chemicals used in the fracking process would be present in her water and harm her children, so she sold her house for an $80,000. loss.

    Why is it necessary to use toxic chemicals such as ethylene glycol in the fracking process? Is it possible to identify in advance rock formations in which fracking chemicals will not seep into the water table? How much methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas, is likely to escape into the atmosphere during the fracking/tapping process? Will those who suffer loss as a result of owning property where fracking takes place have to take civil action to obtain recompense or be successful? What is so wrong with building modern coal fired power stations like the Germans?

    • lojolondon
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      What programme was that?? Please tell us and I will write to the broadcaster concerned about publicising total garbage. These stupid claims of “gas that comes through the water pipes” are completely ancient, and have been thoroughly disproved, in theory and in practice.
      Fracking has been carried out in the UK for over 40 years, and has never caused any damage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-23756320 so this is a reminder to check everything, especially when ‘green’ people are speaking.

      • forthurst
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for that link, lojolondon. I believe the programme was about recent largescale shale gas fracking in the US which as the link admits has caused problems. However, rest assured, I haven’t been turned into a mad swivel-eyed greenie; my response to what I saw was simply to ask some questions.

    • Mark
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Oops – it’s Peter Lilley not Nigel Lawson:

      https://events.spectator.co.uk/events/its-time-to-get-fracking/

      • Bazman
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        Shale gas will be for Tories and their supporters like cheap labour.They want it without any of the disadvantages and believe it is some sort of magic bullet.

        • Edward2
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

          Doing OK in the good old USA with gas Baz.
          And in a delicious irony they are now meeting the CO2 Kyoto targets they sensibly did not sign up to.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

            Not the same problem or geology. Fracking will of course play a part, but like cheap labour is not without problems and drawbacks. Your fantasy that green lefties are stopping progress and no for no other reasons is just wrong. Just wait until some rich Tory village is involved. Wind farms will be just a blip.

        • A different Simon
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

          Expectations for shale gas in some circles have got out of hand which can only lead to shale gas being viewed a disappointment even if it is by any reasonable judgement a success .

          Up until 10 years ago resources in nano-permeability reservoirs were inaccessible and valueless .

          I only wish I was smart enough to understand some of the formulae use to describe flow rates in these reservoirs but the maths is way beyond most mortals .

          Thanks to enhancements in computing power which enable live micro seismic and advances in the combination of directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing they are accessible .

          How mankind uses the time these resources buy him in putting off peak oil is another matter .

          Generating electricity with methane seems to me a waste of such a desirable resource which should be saved for domestic and industrial heat and transport , as compressed natural gas for professional users thus reducing our imports of diesel .

      • Mark
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        How about the link debunking the shale gas myths?

        Nick Grealy is speaking on the same side of the debate as you…

  15. lifelogic
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Do you not mean: Lower energy bills or frozen OAPs .

    Stop the green c*** subsidies and costs and spend the billions saved on sensible things that actually save lives now please. Not things that will (almost certainly) not save lives even in 100 years.

    Start by sorting out the dreadful mess that is NHS and getting some cheap energy (gas and coal) flowing quickly for the benefit of jobs, OAPs and indeed everyone.

    • Bazman
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      The danger is and the Tories know it, any cuts in green taxes will just be added to profits using already opaque accounting systems. This is why Dave is begging them not to do this. What will they want in return? Is the question.

      • lifelogic
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        Well the government need to ensure a proper and fair competitive market as well as cut the Green C***.

        • Bazman
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          and nuclear crap?

    • sjb
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic wrote: Stop the green c*** subsidies and costs and spend the billions saved on sensible things that actually save lives now please.

      Like better insulation?

      “UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe because of poor maintenance and insulation […] UK has the highest levels of fuel poverty of a dozen comparable EU nations, as well as one of the worst proportions of homes in a poor state of repair. Over 10m British families live in a home with a leaking roof, damp walls or rotting windows […] UK has the oldest houses in the EU, with over half built before 1960 and just over 10% built since 1991. Older UK homes require at least double the energy to stay warm compared with many countries […]”
      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2013/nov/29/uk-homes-most-expensive-heat-eu-fuel-poverty
      (if you don’t want to read the article, at least take a look at the illustration titled Cold man of Europe)

      • Mark
        Posted December 1, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        There is insulation that makes economic sense, and insulation that doesn’t. I am in favour of the former, and against the latter. The current law insists on uneconomic levels of insulation in many instances, as discussed elsewhere in this thread.

  16. Bazman
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Ofgem said data shows that while the price rises announced this autumn by the energy companies have averaged 9.1%, wholesale prices have risen by just 1.7% – adding just £10 to the average household bill of £600. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that it was up to the companies to justify their charges to consumers,which of course they know unless forced to by law they will never do.
    Now the Tories wants the energy companies to promise not to blame them when they put prices up again if they remove the green levies whilst telling us that laughably competition is the answer and any movement interference is Marxism. Blaming the EU and and calling for a shale gas revolution like in the US will not wash for a number of technical and environmental reasons shale gas may well be another source of energy, but in no want will be the magic bullet that the fantasists want.

    • Edward2
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      You forget Baz that on top of the rise in wholsale prices are the extra costs they have to bear for paying the PV panel subsidies, paying for the Governments insulation programme and the huge costs of meeting the EU renewable energy targets etc.
      Then there the many increased costs of running their business ie inflation, increased red tape, employee wages, increased pension costs etc
      Wholesale energy prices are not the only factor affecting their total overhead costs.

      • Bazman
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        That is not our problem. In any other business this would come off their bottom line, but as there is no way of avoiding energy companies and their cartel like behaviour we have no choice but to pay. The idea that this has added so much to our bills from these billing companies and not profiteering from monopoly markets is more apologist nonsense from you.

        • lojolondon
          Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          Baz, this and the previous government are completely complicit in this scam with the energy companies. Energy companies invested their money in useless windmills that make no economic sense, because the government made it worth their while by allowing them to charge over the odds for the next several decades. so don’t expect that any government will do anything for energy prices for the foreseeable future. Except UKIP, who have no agreement with anybody and want to do what is best for their voters, not what the Germans tell them to do. (sorry John, it is the truth!)

        • Edward2
          Posted November 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          Rubbish
          Every business must pass onto its customers its running costs if they increase, or go out of business.
          You regularly reveal your total lack of commercial experience.
          The profits of UK energy companies are well under 6% of turnover.
          Would you risk and invest your life savings?

          • Bazman
            Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

            6%? If you believe that you believe anything.If what you say is true then tell us how it is not possible to make a profit with an energy company in a captured market. Every time it finds a cost has risen it just passes it into the customer? Nice work if you can get it! lojo. Whato! How about the massive subsidies to nuclear which dwarfs wind power? Nothing to say on that have we?

          • Edward2
            Posted December 1, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

            I’ve plenty to say on nuclear Baz, unlike you who continually refuses to answer how you are going to get to your low carbon fantasy future and manage to keep the lights on without coal gas and especially nuclear.
            If Blair and Brown had not incompetently sold off all our UK nuclear technology, then we would be able to build our own nuclear plants instead of paying others over the odds to do so.
            PS Look up the profit levels of the energy companies, they are all public records available on the web.
            Look up the amount of capital employed and divide by published profits and you will see who is right.
            If you have evidence they are illegally hiding their profits then tell HRMC.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

            Did you ever watch C4 dispatches on energy companies edward? All propaganda I suppose to a right wing dreamer like yourself.

          • Edward2
            Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

            You are obsessed with this programme Baz
            Which I have watched.
            A nice bit of anti capitalist propaganda with only one side of the story shown.
            But I realise it suits your set views.

          • Bazman
            Posted December 5, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

            As I said all propaganda. Which parts are propaganda specifically edward? Can you tell us and why? If not then shut up with your right whining view and apologist stance on energy companies.

    • Mark
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 12:06 am | Permalink

      ROCs required have increased from 0.158 per MWh to 0.206 per MWh and the buyout price has risen from £40.71 to £42.02. That’s an increase of 34.5% in the ROC obligation in money terms, adding around £3.5bn to bills (before allowing for VAT on top, which will be 5% on domestic supply, but 20% on supply embedded in many of the things we buy).

      https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ofgem-publications/58136/buy-out-price-and-mututalisation-ceiling-201314.pdf

      Every time you replace a MWh of cheap power with a MWh of expensive power you increase costs, even if the cost of coal is not increasing and the cost of wind power is not increasing. The difference between the cost of coal and offshore wind is well over £100/MWh. The requirement to produce more expensive power at the expense of cheaper sources is driving up bills.

  17. Atlas
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It is a pity that so many MPs rushed to agree with the 2008 Climate Act. All the front-bench shilly-shallying just reflects that old Chinese proverb concerning ‘Loss of Face’.

    I will make a guess that few MPs actually have a sufficiently strong background in a ‘Hard’ science to ask serious questions of Ministers. All the Ministers do is reiterate what their (equally ‘classically’ educated senior civil-servants) have written. So we get nowhere – except to have higher and higher energy bills.

    • lifelogic
      Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Peter Lilly Economics and Physics at Clare Camb. I note. More Cambridge Maths, Physics and Engineering people please.

      Though there is hope, even for Oxford PPE graduates to see the light it seems, we have Nigel Lawson & Tony Abbot in Australia.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Indeed even Cameron, yet another Oxford PPE chap is finally coming round to his senses (on green c*** energy) it seems.

        More engineers, physicists, mathematicians and a few of the rare sensible economists (on the BBC anyway) please from all universities is what is needed.

        • The PrangWizard
          Posted December 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          Sadly, Cameron is not coming to his senses. It’s all PR to him. He will likely say the opposite tomorrow.

      • Atlas
        Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic – I certainly agree about the Oxford PPE graduate Nigel Lawson. His book on Global Warming is a masterly assessment of the issues, risks and costs. Highly recommended.

        Yes, more of the Lawson calibre please – even from “the other place”.

  18. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that the EU actually bans gas and fracking, does it? Perhaps there is a fine if we fail to meet a CO2 emission target (their’s, I hope, not Labour’s promise of an 80% cut by 2050). We should get real. It’s going to be 20 years before we can fully construct the best balanced and reasonably cheap portfolio of ‘clean’ energy, with nuclear, tidal, solar, clean coal and wind farms all in the frame. Even then, it would be foolish to phase out gas entirely.

    Recent discussion of Big Six energy prices has focused on their increased distribution costs. Apparently, some of the most recently built energy plants are some distance from the national grid. I wonder which ones they are.

  19. Richard1
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Price fixing by the govt as Milliband wants is an absurdity. Otherwise if its such a good idea why not fix the price of everything. Labour’s to us on this is an attempt to pre-empt a focus on the real reason for high energy prices and the reason they will be much higher in future – green policies driven by the climate change act.

    As you say it is essential that the UK achieves complete exemption from EU green policies in any renegotiation. Otherwise that will be a big reason to vote to get out.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      In its heart of hearts, Labour wants to own everything and fix the price of everything. Remember how Joseph Stalin and his ilk operated that system. Prices were often set absurdly low and items were in short supply. People would queue for hours to buy fresh meat. Remember the key aspect of all Socialist systems: your time is not valuable.

  20. behindthefrogs
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    It is of extreme concern that the bulk of the reduction seems to be coming at the expense of providing external cladding to older houses that have no cavity. This particularly affects the poor and the elderly.

  21. Antisthenes
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    It is a sad indictment of the British people that they have been taken in by RedEds price freeze on Energy. It has been shown so often that price controls are counterproductive and only leads to shortages and distortions of markets with a long term price to pay but that is how the lefts mind works. Venezuela is a current glaring example of how this socialist madness works with their high inflation and shortages of goods. It comes to something when even toilet paper is hard to come by. What is RedEd going to do when after he is installed in no 10 and his policy backfires on him send in the military and force everyone to sell their goods and services below cost? I despair and if RedEd is elected PM on this promise then the UK voters deserve all the damage that this is going to do to them.

  22. miami.mode
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Any reduction in energy bills will be welcome but doubtless the devil will be in the detail. By pushing for a daily rate plus a separate usage rate Ofgem have managed to increase bills for very light users such as pensioners who only perhaps use gas for cooking.

    With Mr Miliband threatening to freeze prices the energy companies would be lacking in their fiduciary duty by not increasing prices as much as possible before the next general election if there was any danger of a Labour victory. The one good point Mr Miliband has raised is more clarity between generating costs and retail profits where these are undertaken by a single company.

  23. uanime5
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Shortly we will see the Coalition offer on our energy bills. Current briefing suggests we can look forward to a £50 cut in the bill from the Coalition.

    Given that this cut in fuel bills is being paid for by a rising in taxation it’s difficult to determine whether anyone will be better off.

    The Coalition is unlikely to offer the full £100 plus of green costs off the bills. The Lib Dems have been fighting hard to keep the bills up, as they like the green costs and charges and wish to make lower carbon emissions one of the main aims of energy policy.

    Given that these green costs include insulation and subsidies for poorer households it’s no surprise that the Lib Dems have been opposing scrapping them. It’s grossly misleading to claim that the £112 all go to green energy, when the much of it goes towards helping those in fuel poverty.

    Around £50 off is progress. Slowing down, revising or making cheaper some of the green programmes will help at the margin to control the power bill.

    If the Conservatives are planning to reduce these green costs by £50 (a 44.6% reduction) which parts of the green programmes are going to be reduced? Are the Conservatives planning to give less help to poorer households?

    The USA has cheaper energy than us because it is embracing the shale gas revolution.

    Poland also embraced shale gas but it didn’t help them.

  24. Mark
    Posted November 30, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    One small benefit of the rumoured changes to the ECO spend is that they may abandon the most expensive and lowest (negative?) return investments in insulating properties while cutting down their internal areas. It really should be enshrined in law that projects will only be undertaken if they have a short enough payback period to cover an interest charge and a reasonable return over and above that. I would like to see the maximum payback period set at seven years.

    A focus on economics of investments might be a good habit for MPs to get into. Then they’d stop other value destroying projects such as HS2.

    • stred
      Posted December 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      There are 6.6 million older houses with solid walls having a U value of 2.2 W/deg C/sm for a 9″ solid wall and plaster. This can be reduced to around 0.5 with internal insulation about 40mm thick. This also stops damp penetration. However , this is no longer possible and under the 2010 Regulations 4″ insulation is required and this can cost thousands. The improvement is only 0.5 to 0.3. Also, under the Green Deal this has to be done by an approved agents and the bills are increased with an average 7% interest. Unsurprisingly, uptake has been minimal. Roof insulation is comparatively easy. Underfloor insulation gives poorer returns. The standards are due to be raised again in 2016.

      • stred
        Posted December 2, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        Could I add that the 40mm method I used involved a thinner multifoil quilt and low E cavities. The figure of 0.5 would be lower (ie better) if Building Control accepted manufacturer’s real building tests showing a 3-5 times greater insulation value. This has been sunk in a battle between the solid and multifoil sides. Multifoil is tested to BS hot box method,using conduction, but is claimed to work by cutting radiation. I have recently built an extension using multifoil+ fibreglass in a wall only 8″ thick. I found that even in freezing weather it stays warm without a radiator and only the pipework for heating.

  25. yulwaymartyn
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    You have just given a very good reason as to why we should stay in the EU. The EU needs to control our energy policy or otherwise if left to the Tories, we will use outdated power stations, triggering higher carbon emissions etc. Why if the rest of the EU is capable of having a modern energy policy with a view to reducing world pollution etc why can’t the outdated, factional and selfish and (if they have their way) peripheral British Conservative party be the same.? Answer is in the question.

    You will have to do better than this JR or your party will be derided as narrow and self-interested. The very things that most voters dislike about your party.

  26. A different Simon
    Posted December 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    John ,

    Good luck in the Spectator shale gas debate .

    If you get a chance try to talk to fellow shale proponent Nick Grealy who was once an energy buyer and has good ideas about changes which could be made to UK energy markets functioning better like they do in the U.S.

    He’s one of those rare self professed lefties who isn’t living in cloud cuckoo land and doesn’t think profit is a dirty word and far from being anti-American (as much opposition to shale is) actually lived there .

  27. alastair harris
    Posted December 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    why would we need to negotiate with the EU over our energy policies? Are we are a sovereign nation or what?

  28. Bazman
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Energy bills are not helped by many landlords installing electric heating as it is cheap to install and maintain for them, certainly much cheaper than gas and not having any or at least the minimum insulation in the property. Don’t tell us the tenant has a choice of whether to rent a property like this as you know in the housing situation that exist in this country this is pure fantasy for the majority of renters. Can’t put the blame on energy companies for that one. Maybe the tenants should just buy a jumper?

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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