Cheaper energy

Amidst all the drama of nothing happening in the Brexit talks the government announced it is going to legislate to place a price cap on energy prices. It wishes to instruct Ofgem to control prices of standard variable tariffs. It argues that the energy market is very damaged already by a range of government interventions and by the behaviour of some of the companies involved. As many customers do not switch from standard tariffs to the cheaper ones on offer, the government thinks the Regulator should step in and force prices down where they are high.

The companies respond that the market has plenty of competitors and people can shop around for lower tariffs if they wish.  They also say they will abolish some of the lowest tariffs in response to any price cap on standard tariffs to limit their loss of revenue from these changes. The Regulator is unlikely to be able to stop them doing that.

So what do I think about all this? I welcome the aim of getting prices down for people. The legislation is likely to prove very popular in the Commons, with Labour  liking the approach. Cheaper energy is a necessity  b0th to boost people’s living standards, and to foster an industrial revival which would thrive on cheaper fuel.

I think the longer term solution to cheaper energy is to promote more market competition, and to reduce the number of government interventions in the market that favour dearer energy solutions. It would also be good to revisit VAT on domestic fuel once we are out of the EU, as this tax is a further cause of expensive energy. We should get on with producing more of our own gas, as at the moment gas asfeedstock and fuel for industry has to be imported.

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  1. Pragmatist
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    A better approach, in my opinion, is to mount a campaign for realistic temperature controls in homes and business premises. Whilst we do not wish a Leiningrad Under Attack From Nazis scenario where we wear enough coats to sink a ship, it is about time we got real with temperature. Most of our places of residence and occupation are 25% and even 50% over warmed. It must remembered we originated from a species which had absolutely no central heating or what we could term proper external heat. Yet we prospered. We should think about it and realise one nylon garment, warmth wise, is far superior to organic clothing. We should recognise, at last, our advances and shut off the heat. It is bad for us. I wish the NHS were more intelligent on the matter. But nothing is perfect.

    • eeyore
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      A glance at any old thermometer shows that room temperature used to be 55F (13C for Newmania and PvL). People thought clearly because their brains were not rotted by superheated fug. They ate as much as they liked because they burnt off surplus calories keeping warm. They were slim, wise and hardy, standing no nonsense whatever from Johnny Foreigner. They won wars and gave law to the nations.

      Eheu fugaces labuntur anni!

      I think the next Tory manifesto should promise action to make people turn their heating down and wear a hat in the house. Preferably a silk topper in town, but a thick tweed ratter would do for the country.

    • Hope
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      JR, you know perfectly well that the Climate Change Act is responsible for high pricing. An EU construct introduced by Red Ed, as your party labelled him, and built on by Treeza Halifax May. She confirmed this again in parliament to him!

      May claimed she believed in free markets then announced her price cap! Red Ed was slaughtered by your party for suggesting this, yet she introduces his policy!

      I am starting to think that as there is not enough competition these little dictators in charge of the big six need to be removed. Horrid companies with horrid values and morals built on the I am alright Jack sentiment the little people will pay. When the CEO of SSE has a bonus of £1.7 million equal or higher than his yearly salary you know something is wrong. As there is a limited market, with price caps and Climate Change Act you might as well revert to nationalisation. At least it will stop the grubby practices of enriching a few undeserved at the expense of the many in the likes of SSE.

      • Mark B
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        Have you seen what some CE’s of NHS Trusts get ?

        The State sector is not the answer.

        • Hope
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          Cameron was going to cap public sector pay not to be higher than the PM, another failed promise.

          I think he must have promised more and failed to deliver more than other living PM.

      • NickC
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic, Indeed the 2008 CCA is a culprit, but that was a result of we-know-best-government. Putting a government price cap on energy prices which have been deliberately increased by government is bizarre.

        Why do politicians still believe the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory? Even mainstream climate scientists accept that Climate Sensitivity is lower than they thought, and that their computer models (GCMs) run too hot. CO2 is not our enemy.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

          Indeed their climate “forecasts” and computer models are drivel, rather like the BoE’s financial modelling.

          Yet people still trust their new “forecasts”!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Indeed the problem I have here is my wife and daughters (and before that my mother) who always seemed to want the house about 4 degrees warmer than I do and refuse to wear warm clothes. The wife says it is because she is Italian.

      This nearly doubles the heating bill. A cold house also help you slim (as you tend to move about more) burning more energy in the process!

      A win, win, win if you can overcome the women’s vote or lock up the thermostat that is!

      • rose
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        It is the man in my house who is guilty of this opressive behaviour! And he wants the windows shut all year round too.

      • Hope
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Central heating took off in the 1970’s before that we had good old coal fires. The UK has plenty of coal, it knows how to build coal fired power stations and it is cheaper than Hinckley! What is there not to like? Good enough for I did China and Germany, why not UK? Jobs in the process.

    • James Doran
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Or you could just let people decide for themselves how to heat their own homes.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        Dear James–Absolutely–And it is by no means just “heat”–There is simply no comparison between a gas hob and overhead grill and an electric equivalent. I remember the shock when I first had it explained to me that I had to wait however long before an electric hob would warm up–with gas it is instantaneous; and chargrilling under the grill, so that tomatoes, or sardines, have some taste is easy again. It is also possible (I know because I have done it) to run a gas supply in to the garden (over the roof and under the patio–easier than you might think) and have a permanent outside barbecue, again available instantly–positively luxurious at almost all times other than dead of Winter–No need to cook in kitchen. Another possibility is, perhaps just in the dining room, to lay on gas lighting which is just plain beautiful.

        • fedupsoutherner
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

          Hear, hear for gas Leslie. I wouldn’t buy a house if it were all electric. I hate it for the reasons you state above. Just thinking about having to use electric for everything fills me with dread.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

          Postscript–Should more accurately have said, rather than over the roof, up in to the eaves (nice copper pipe) at the front, through the loft under the floor boards and down the rear wall, this latter pipe having a prominent emergency valve, and then under the slabs by mole so a minimum of digging. No disadvantages of any kind.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            PPS–And if in slightest doubt, the ‘barbecue’ itself had the same artificial charcoal thinggies as with any ‘non real’ barbecue, with the most straightforward of flat tops when not in use to keep the rain off (but even that could be dispensed with). No plastic or Tech, High or otherwise. No, I do not sell or have any other interest.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      You need to explain what 25% and 50% over warmed means. Are you suggesting 75 degrees Fahrenheit should be 60 degrees or even 50 degrees?

      And, strictly, you should be using degrees Kelvin, and that would make it even more uncomfortable!

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    In introducing a compulsory control of wages and prices, in contravention of the deepest commitments of this party, has my right hon. Friend taken leave of her senses? Clearly yes she has.

    We need reliable, on-demand and far cheaper energy and no expensive subsidies for green crap. Let the “renewables” compete in the few areas where it can, but on an equal and fair basis. Prices in many places are less that half those in the UK no wonder the energy intensive jobs get exported.

    Another area that needs more competition is the provision of new utility connections to new properties which can be hugely over priced by often monopoly providers. Water, drains, electricity and gas.

    I read that: – Islamic faith school’s gender segregation is sex discrimination, the courts have ruled.

    Yet sending them to these religious schools in the first place is not sex discrimination it seems? Needless to say the “wrong on almost every issue” Theresa wants more religious schools to indoctrinate young minds with various religions and propaganda, thus augmenting the cleavages in our society further. Could she tell us why perhaps?

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    So are all single sex religious schools now going not to be banned? Or is it only segregation within one school that counts as being sexist?

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Misguided Government “renewables/un-reliables” policy is directly forcing up energy prices hugely – and then government legislate for price controls over it.

    What lunacy next housing? Excessive planning restrictions, OTT green loon building controls and Hammonds absurd taxes (that fall directly onto tenants – the 3% extra stamp duty and taxation of landlord interest – now taxed twice once on the landlords then again at the bank) push up rents hugely. So will he now legislate for price controls on rents. Thus ensuring a further lack of supply of property to rent!

    What about the price of milk, chocolate, meat and clothes? Lets have a shortage of those in the shops too. What dangerous, socialist idiots we have in charge.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      It is frightening isn’t it ? That a political party that in the 80’s and 90’s won four General Elections on the back of Conservative policies, and a New Labour Party which came into office promising to continue said policies, is now going back to the 70’s for ideas.

      Next, the Three Day Week.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps power cuts too, prices and income policies, bodies left unburied, months of refuse left in the streets …….

        Indeed what a choice these tax borrow and waste, daft, green crap, red tap spewing socialists or even more moronic green crap, totally deluded, magic money tree socialists.

    • graham1946
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Landlords don’t need any help to increase rents. If these taxes etc came off altogether, tenants would not get any reduction.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Nonsense many landlords will stop letting or building/buying new ones as not worthwhile. So supply goes does and market rents go up with less choice for tenants.

        Why buy and rent out a flat if you are going to lose money on it due to daft and totally unfair tax laws. Landlords are not a charity after all, any more than businesses who rent out cars, trucks, diggers or aeroplanes.

        • anon
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

          Landlords should only be allowed to purchase “new builds” or major repair or rebuilds with specific permission.

          This would encourage supply, which is needed, and probably lower prices in the 2nd hand market.

          Prices of 2nd hand properties would likely fall. So more voters would have a chance of owning not renting a home. Well at least until the care home fees or worse.

        • graham1946
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

          Please read what I said. I said Landlords would not give tenants a reduction if the taxes were cancelled. The rest of your rant is no answer and is as usual off target.

  5. Richard1
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    The policy is a nonsense and any Conservative should be able to see that. Companies will increase their prices ahead of the regulation and the cap will become a Floor. Out energy provider put up our variable tariff by > 60% last Monday. So I’ve just switched again. What we need is competition in supply – which we have – and a focus on low cost generation, which we don’t have. We need to get moving with shale gas. Contrary to the misleading propaganda being put out by the wind industry, based on present technology there is no chance of ‘renewables’ coming close to meeting demand.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Oh I wish our government could get its act together.

    Only a couple of years ago Ed Miliband was being cast as the village idiot by Conservatives for wanting price caps on fuel.
    Now they are wanting price caps on the most expensive tariffs, which will mean the lowest rates will rise to compensate.

    Certainly I believe the UK population should benefit from low energy prices if it is feasible, but government interference with its obsession with going green has raised not only fuel prices, but the taxes needed to subsidise them as well..

    It has also been suggested recently that they would like all fossil fuels (Gas included) to be banned from 2040.
    Does that mean that newer condensing boilers are to be ripped out when the time comes, to be replaced with what ?

    Just where do they think all this cheap fuel is going to come from ?

    Its ok to have some sort of aspiration policy if there is a sensible alternative, but what is actually being proposed.

    • David Price
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      There are some proposals to switch to Hydrogen but that introduces a set of problems including metal embrittlement and a higher propensity for leaks.

      One possibility might be to generate syngas via hydorgen and surplus wind/solar energy and use that instead of natural gas. This would likely be more compatible with the distribution network, provide feedstock and fuel but it only has half the energy density of natural gas so I don’t know what effect that would have on cooking, boilers etc etc.

      I suspect though they are simply hoping that 25 years is enough time to develop an alternative.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    I tend to see Hammond more as “the enemy” than I do the EU.

    I imagine his next budget, coming very shortly, will do even more damage to the economy and the country. He seems to be genetically a tax, borrow and piss down the drain, greencrap, interventionist. A lover of high taxes, huge waste, big government, endless misguided red tape and very high fiscal complexity, and a hater or the efficient gig economy – the complete opposite of what would benefit the economy and UK productivity.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      How did this irrelevant and random comment pass moderation ?

      • Mark B
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        Sorry to be a pedant, and no offence to LL but, I think it is, “comments” not comment.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        Sensible, pertinent and true perhaps?

        • graham1946
          Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          More like cut and paste – virtually every post a copy of the last.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      By referring to the EU as “the enemy” Philip Hammond went further than earlier in the week when he accused them of not behaving like friends.

      “We have made the running in this, and we really need our European Union partners to engage. It is quite a small ask, really. All we are saying is, “Let’s sit down round a table and have a chat.” We are not asking them to sign up or to write blank cheques; we are simply asking them to start talking to us. We are friends, and we hope to remain so in a comprehensive partnership arrangement, but when friends have an issue to resolve, they sit down and talk about it. I think people in this country are finding it increasingly difficult to understand why we can’t start talking about the substance of our future relationship.”

      Of course they are not behaving like friends now, just as they did not behave like friends earlier when they refused to give David Cameron any effective help with his problem of domestic opposition, and on many other occasions before that.

      Firstly I think we have to distinguish between the peoples of other EU countries and their governments. Just like us their democratic choices tend to be limited to members of their political elites and it cannot be assumed that an unhelpful or aggressive foreign politician is truly reflecting the views of the population.

      Therefore, incidentally, we should not punish well-behaved settled citizens of other EU countries for the sins of politicians back in their countries of origin.

      Secondly language can become overheated and it is best to be careful about the use of words like “enemy” or “traitor”, but on the other hand although JR clearly does not like me saying it I am nauseated by the crawling attitude of Theresa May and other ministers.

      Civility is necessary in international relations, and cordiality may be appropriate at times, but not all this revolting touching and hugging and kissing.

      • rose
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I don’t like PH being subjected to the Boris and Prince Philip treatment. His words were a facon de parler and illustrative of what he was saying to his colleagues: don’t let’s fight amongst ourselves: the enemy, the opponents, are across the table.

        No-one nowadays is allowed to use metaphors or quote from anything or cite anything; no-one is allowed to speak normally or historically. Everyone must use PC euphemism and jargon. Every uniform thought must be couched in the approved code of the moment. This has been getting progressively worse for all of my grownup lifetime.

        It is lazy and ignorant journalism to take words out of context and twist and distort them deliberately to mislead people. Journalists should give the context and the meaning, and if necessary the historical background, but that would mean having conscientious and educated journalists who wanted to raise their fellow countrymen up.

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        I absolutely agree Denis

    • Phil_Richmond
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Exactly!!! The problem with the Tories is that they are infested with people who should really be in the Lib Dems, but have high jacked the Party for their own power trip.
      The Conservative Party will not allow Brexit to happen. We will end up with some BS where we leave in name only.
      I for once agree with Peter Hitchens that the Conservative Party needs to die and a new real conservative movement replace it. The cancer has spread too far and the real conservatives (like our host) are way too loyal.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        I too fear we will not escape fully under May and Hammond. Worse still they are likely to let Corbyn really destroy the economy in short order.

  8. A different Simon
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Ban councils from using public funds to subsidise electricity for electric cars .

    Remove the £5,000 subsidy from new electric car purchases . People who buy electric cars are in the main affluent virtue signallers and should not be subsidised by the masses .

    Do you think the Govt should let domestic users of electricity for cooking,lighting,heating etc be forced to subsidise use of electricity for electric vehicles ?

    Should HM Govt state they they will not tax electricity for vehicle use differently from domestic use and not allow providers to force domestic users to subsidise vehicle users consumption either ?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      A different Simon

      Do you think the Govt should let domestic users of electricity for cooking,lighting,heating etc be forced to subsidise use of electricity for electric vehicles ?

      Yes, probably as they think it’s ok for all of us to subsidise those that can afford to install solar panels, bio mass boilers and wind turbines.

  9. Duncan
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I find it odd that a free market advocate like you John should even think of endorsing such a policy. This is straight out of the box labelled ‘The property of the Labour Party’.

    To be seen to be endorsing a policy put forward by Ed Miliband is so very damaging for the Tories and I don’t believe May is aware of the damage her policy choices are inflicting. She’s endorsing massive market intervention in private sector industry.

    If the public begin to believe that this form of political intervention is the solution to all economic inconveniences they will simply conclude this approach must work in all areas and they may as well vote for a party that believes in wholesale intervention ie Labour.

    The solution is the election of a Conservative government that believes in the free-market rather than the current government who believes in pandering to leftist political sloganeering.

    Competition drives prices downwards. You can see this effect among supermarkets. This area of economic activity as been a revelation for consumers

    If May is PM at the next election the Tories will suffer. I’ll either abstain or scratch my vote. She’s weak, she panders, she bends to the will of the left, she’s overtly interventionist and the British people do not appreciate such weakness

    Politicians, get out of the way.

  10. Nig l
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Greg Clarke complained that switching was too difficult/fiddly etc but admitted he had never done it. David Cameron presumably suppported by TM said this was Marxist rubbish. It’s hasn’t worked long term in other countries. Hinckley Point will get paid for 35 years twice what the last round of alternative energy bids was settled at with that technology becoming cheaper annually.

    It is a cheap short term political gimmick by someone who doesn’t understand markets. I have managed to reduce/keep to a minimum my energy costs for a number of years as a pensioner so her reasons are rubbish. Incidentally the price of energy company shares and their income will fall and therefore hitting people owning their shares. Who are they, pension providers. So well done TM for reducing pensions. Surely for a Tory policy this is a nightmare. Sadly I am fully awake.

  11. David L
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    “…promote more market competition..” I’ve heard that before somewhere. When the utilities were privatised the promises of cheaper energy were all over the media…but it doesn’t work like that. And to confirm it look at the railways.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      The railways are far, far better now than when nationalised and often very cheap too, outside peak hours. I recently travelled from Marylebone to Birmingham Moore St. It cost only about £5 single and I had a table to myself all the way plus charging points and the free reliable wi-fi too. I got lots of work done on route quite a pretty route too.

      What pushes up the cost of energy is the Climate Alarmism (the huge exaggeration of) Religion, red tape for government and tax payer subsidies to the green crap rent seekers – doubtless aided by large “consultancy” and lobbying fees and the dual role played by many politicians of poacher and gamekeeper at the same time.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Right on the nail L/L. This Climate Alarmist stuff is just crap. Do politicians really think they can control nature?

      • graham1946
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        That’s funny. Only a couple of weeks ago you were saying how dear it all was and that cars should all pile into the city centres as it was the cheapest way, totally ignoring of course where they would all be put.

    • Duncan
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      How do you know the price being charged for a train ticket is not the correct market price for a train ticket?

      And you assume that a state owned rail network would lead lower prices for users? Wrong.

      Nationalisation means one thing. Political control of an asset by a (left wing ed) union namely the RMT. The RMT will hold you and the nation to ransom. They care not one jot if you get to work, the price of your ticket or the cost to the taxpayer of rail nationalisation. Their only concern is that THEY control its use and THEY can use it as a political weapon

      When will people understand? The unions are political constructs. They believe in the use of political power and the abuse of political power.

      The cost of your train ticket is the last thing they give a toss about

    • Mark B
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      The fact that they now have to intervene to cap the price just goes to show that the policy may have indeed failed. I say, “may” as I believe it makes no sense to have once State (UK) owned utilities privatized, only to be bought and owned by foreign governments. Governments who may see such enterprises as a means to offset their own taxation at home.

    • formula57
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      But the true reason was often to permit the burden of renewal, upgrading, modernization and capacity increases to be relinquished by the taxpayer and assumed by consumers and shareholders in an arrangement that stood a fair chance of seeing that burden managed in a better, more efficient fashion than was likely in nationalized businesses. Clearly, the cunning aspect was that although taxpayers and consumers are largely the same group of people it meant their grievances were directed other than at government, in the first instance at least.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      In both industries it’s a matter of hunting around for the least worst deal. Woe betide those with bad computer, filing skills, eyesight. A real vulnerability.

    • Derek Henry
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is nothing but rent seeking David they form monopolies instead.

    • libertarian
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      David L

      er Network Rail is nationalised

      • hefner
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        Er, Libby, Libby: In case you don’t know, the running train companies are not nationalised and it is these who in concert increase every year the prices for daily commuters in excess of the inflation rate reported in July.

        So one more meaningless comment to your credit.

        • Edward2
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

          Network Rial are the landlords.
          They charge the train owners rent for the use of their track.
          Thus the bigh base price is set.

          • stred
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

            Southern to Brighton is a strikes disaster. It has been handed a management cost+ contract by the ministry and has no incentive to settle strikes early. The unions exploit this.

          • hefner
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            Yes, but only partially true: Network Rail still contracts out much of its development and maintenance work to private companies. Second, why are ticket increases based on RPI not CPI? And finally how do you explain the actual structure of tariffs where (say, from London) two destinations sometimes distant by more than 100 miles have roughly the same ticket price if not by private companies extracting the maximum price possible on the shorter but busier travelled routes?

    • NickC
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      David L, The government, since at least the 2008 Climate Change Act, has intervened continuously and extensively in the energy “market”. In fact there is no real market left. From carbon taxes, to strike-price auctions, to requirements to use so-called “renewables” in preference to dispatchable base load, we have a government directed system.

      • fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        NickC. Too right. Trouble is none of our politicians really understand the energy market and they are too self righteous to listen to the real experts. They prefer to listen to NGO’s to garner extra votes.

  12. Lifelogic
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Charles Moore is spot on again today. What on earth does May think is to be gained by her childish playing of race/gender/victim/politics card and her numerically illiterate confusion of correlation with causation? No comment from Sir David Norgrove, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, this time it seems – I wonder why, perhaps after his basic mistake over Boris he is keeping his head down?

    This is perhaps the most basic, common and dangerous, sub GCSE level, statistics level error.

    • BOF
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      I agree LL and I think it will come down to various individuals or groups picking their own particular grievance. A recipe for disaster and will likely lead to a minefield of unnecessary legislation.

      What happened to equality of opportunity for goodness sake?

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Expect more *positive* discrimination against your grandkids. Way to go May. Spank paying carehome residents too – to pay for those in the next bed who’ve never worked. Alienate the core vote.

      *Trying mirthfully to bring this subject back on the dreary topic of energy supply.

    • Phil_Richmond
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      May is way out of her depth. That is now obvious.
      The advantage of having a leadership campaign is that the candidates get tested under pressure. The coronation that was forced on us is turning out to be a total disaster for the country.
      I am a classic small tax, small government, strong defence, anti-EU, libertarian conservative. I left the Conservative Party in 2005 at the stupidity of Cameron being elected party leader and have hated the party ever since. Who do I vote for? Who represents me?

    • Mitchel
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      In his book,The Great Leveller,a study of inequality since the Stone Age(!)published earlier this year,the Stanford historian,Walter Scheidel,cast doubt on the ability of any domestic government to reduce inequality significantly without the aid of one of the four “great levellers”:-

      -mass warfare
      -violent revolution
      -state collapse
      -lethal pandemics

      So,Theresa,dear,if you’re reading this,which method(s) are you contemplating?As you have a lot on your plate at the moment,could you please restrict yourself to a maximum of two of the above!

  13. Ian Wragg
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    What a mess we’re in. Just this week the government announced another round of subsidies for useless windmills whilst in the same breath stating that all carbon derived generation and domestic gas boilers to be scrapped by 2040. Gas 2.2 pence per kilowatt and electricity 15pence per kilowatt.
    Increasing fuel bills by a factor of 7.
    No new CCGT plants will be built under the threat of being scrapped with 25 more years of life left.
    Only people elected to the UK government having studied PPE could pursue such stupid policies.
    When the lights start going out in the near future perhaps there will be a reappraisal.
    Hammond continues unchallenged trying to derail Brexit. When will he be sacked.

    • NickC
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Ian W, Funny how the government can readily set out basic principles (right or wrong) like no more ICE cars and no more gas home heating/cooking by 2040, yet resolutely fails to state the principle that our independence is non-negotiable.

  14. am
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    The reduction on Vat after brexit should be thought out over all products not just energy. Another point is that after brexit, like decimalisation, business may attempt to sneak in price rises. This has to be carefully watched as we all know large sections of the business community cannot be trusted from the banks down. Let the markets decide is a phrase to be watched with caution.

  15. Bert Young
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Energy companies will manipulate their pricing ahead of any new controls ; the announcement was badly timed .

  16. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    If I weren’t crying now, I would be laughing over the absurdity of it all John. You summed up the situation when you said if there is a cap then the energy companies will just get rid of the lower tariffs and put everyone on a higher one. Oh great! So those of us that choose a lower tariff which is best for us will be penalised and everyone’s bills will rise. That makes sense – not. If we had a sensible government approach to energy instead of the ridiculous one we see at the moment, thanks to NGO’s, the Labour government that introduced this ‘green’ crap and we weren’t paying people to burn wood and then give them money over and above what they are spending on it then perhaps we wouldn’t need a price cap. We pay to switch off wind farm all the time. Today most of them aren’t even turning due to low winds. In Scotland on Monday they will be turned off due to an expected hurricane!! Where is all the energy going to come from for electric cars with this scenario? We must start building gas power stations again and make it worth their while to do so. Instead all we are doing is paying for white elephants in the sea and in Scotland, on land. The landscape up here is changing like you would not believe and to what end? We have government policy to blame for higher prices and the lack of movement towards a cheaper energy supply which would be good for consumers, the economy and jobs. Get fracking!!

  17. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I can’t begin to count the number of times I have read reports from respected engineers telling us that the grid cannot operate with solar and wind alone and that our safety net as far as supply in the winter is concerned is at an all time low. If we do happen to get a bad winter ( please bring it on) then we are in danger of power cuts. If the whole of Europe gets a bad winter then Europe could be closed down. It is because of government intervention that we have this problem. They really must get real. My husband is a heating engineer and because we live in a rural area much of his work is for farmers. They are raking it in with solar panels in their fields, wind turbines and bio mass boilers heating their empty barns 24/7. We are paying a fortune for all of this. It is a nonsense to put a cap on prices when we are forced to pay others to get rich quick. The whole thing is a shambles and yet another way for government to force up prices and sink the economy. Energy prices affect everything we do and buy.

  18. William Long
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I think the fact that, as you say, Labour will like this says all that needs to be said about it. The Conservatives have no longer any claim to be the party of Free Markets and low Taxation and the sooner this Government goes the better. I have reached the conclusion that the only way to show people that free markets and low taxation are hugely better that the Corbyn alternative is to give them a dose of the latter since the Conservatives seem unwilling to do so, probably because they no longer believe it in most cases.

  19. Mark B
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    . . . reduce the number of government interventions in the market that favour dearer energy solutions.

    Code for so called, ‘Renewables’. Like importing wood pellets from across the Atlantic to fuel our power stations. What idiot thought that was a good idea ? And it is unlikely that the government will stop this Green madness because so many important people in the Tory Party benefit from all the subsidies they receive.

    . . . the government thinks the Regulator should step in . . .

    No actually, the Regulator is not stepping in, it is the government. And I think it is doing it for specious reasons. It not only wants to try and attract Labour voters, which will never work, but try and curry the favour of the opposition. Will not work either !

    And if the government wants to start capping everything, let us start with government itself. Cap all MP’s, Civil Servants and Local Government pay and pensions. Cap the price of milk, butter, water (bottled and tapped), bread and just about everything. Cap the price of petrol and diesel. Cap the price of travel, because we all know that that is a big cost to many now days.

    This is State Socialism, and we will end up like Venezuela by stealth very soon.

    And the other side of this is, when a government goes down this route, it usually destroys investment so, what does it do ? It creates artificial subsidy to create a false market which is wholly dependent on that subsidy. MADNESS !!!!

    Sorry for the long post.

  20. DaveM
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    OT – I notice the BBC has produced a “project fear” interview with H Clinton. Just as a reminder, that’s the woman who’s spent a career in politics, was given a massive leg-up by her husband, ans STILL managed to lose an election to Donald Trump. I can’t imagine ABC will be producing too many interviews in which Ed Milliband preaches to Americans on their domestic political choices.

    • Mitchel
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      That fawning interview,complete with ready-made advert(and an audience primed to boo-hiss at the mention of Trump)on the BBC One Show last night was appalling.

      • stred
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        The HC interview on the One Show was fawning enough, with no mention of her mistakes or the exposures in the emails published by wiki, or the belief in the US that the leak may have come from disillusioned aides, or the murder of one of them.

        The interview with Andrew Marr this morning was even more fawning and he should have been capable of asking questions, as he is brighter than the showbiz dunces on the One Show. He accepted all her statements about Russians fixing her demise and then gave her an Obama moment to lie about the ‘dishonesty’ in the referendum followed by the usual threats. Nothing about her involvement in the Libya disaster exposed in the emails or her aggressive foreign policy. He gave the impression of being a dummy sitting on her lap. No wonder the BBC pay him so much.

  21. BOF
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Price cap on energy is the thin end of the wedge. What next? Rent control, Food and oh yes, we already have university tuition fees as an example of what happens. Welcome to the UK, Soviet style.

    I agree with your last paragraph John. The way to cheaper energy is more market competition from more sources of energy generation especially if they do not want total breakdown of energy supply as millions of electric cars start to appear on the roads, it will have to happen. Unfortunately common sense is in short supply.

  22. Anonymous
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    One presumes, as I only have one cable and two pipes leading to my house that a change of utility supplier does not change my utility supply.

    Ergo these organisations are surplus and therefore skimming of an infrastructure which can exist without them.

    This is an area where executive pay needs to be monitored for excesses. Classic middle men.

    It is a pain in the arse to have to constantly change around for ‘best’ deals when what I’m actually looking for is the least worst deal.

    I find it hard to remember which organisations I owe money to without looking. Pity anyone whose filing or computer skills are not up to speed.

  23. Javk sneiweiss
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    It is clear that competition as it was envisiaged in all areas is not working- prices are being fixed on the golf courses up and down the country. Of course you won’t find the regulators complaining, because why would they? when they could lose their nice cushy jobs. All prices for petrol diesel gas electricity etc etc need to be fixed at government level.

    • NickC
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Javk, Effectively, with the enormous state taxes on petrol and diesel, plus the 2008 CCA, renewables obligations, carbon tax and strike-price auctions, etc for Gas and Electricity, the government does control the prices (more than the market does, anyway). It’s failing, of course. So why not try something different? – the market (which is just everyone voting with their money).

  24. Shieldsman
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The Government fixes the price of electricity, paying over the odds to get onshore and offshore windfarms built. Then their are the carbon taxes and levies. Higher transmission costs are paid by the Grid to get electricity to the Customer from the North of Scotland.
    No one knows, least of all the Government where the extra generating capacity will come from to supply all the EV’s and Domestic heating and cooking. Its all wishful thinking.
    Miliband’s and the Politically Correct MP’s climate change Act has a lot to answer for.
    The scientists and the carpetbagger economists can’t get their ‘climate sensitivity ‘ factor to match reality. They will not admit that changing climate is seasonal and dependent on geophysical factors.
    Really it is a broken system. I contract to buy my Energy from a middle man who owns nothing but a licence, a telephone and a Computer with an internet connection in probably a rented office. He does not produce any of the energy, transport it to my home, provide any maintenance or even read my meter.
    He buys everything in and sells it to me. I therefore seek out the cheapest deal and hope he stays in business. I am sure Mrs May would come to the rescue if he failed.
    What can May cap? Only the margins not the prices paid to the producer the Government has fixed them.

  25. formula57
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Why not pre-announce the VAT relief on fuel in this next budget? (A move from the Brown playbook, where good news was trailed early then endlessly re-announced until implementation.)

    As for the Milibandesque price cap, it will distort the market and in time lead to more bad news for the government when an increase in the cap price has to be granted. Oh for a Thatcher now!

    • Mark B
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear !

  26. Man of Kent
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The answer to ever rising fuel bills is to eliminate the green taxes .

    These are the biggest component of higher bills .

    Unfortunately we are stuck with the Climate Change Act and its crazy implications .

    Government cannot afford to admit this so blames the energy companies instead .

    Is this fair comment ?

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      @ Man of Kent

      Absolutely correct.

      Just come in from working on bio mass installations both in barns totally over sized for the actual heat requirements and the only reason they were installed was for their green payments. No one ever mentions the decline in efficiency of solar panels and the owner has no responsibility to ensure that they are operating correctly. Short fall in power generated? Just blame the weather. Wind turbines earning more for being turned off than the power generated and even more being installed without the infrastructure to deliver to the end user. Totally understanding and lack of thought enables these policies to drive millions into fuel debt and poverty and the politicians do nothing. It is the fear of the traditional parties not wanting to lose votes to the greens no more no less.

  27. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Why 70% of consumers do not opt to switch company and have a contract is because we don’t want to play the fuel futures market every year and we should we have to?

    The hypocrisy of our paying for unreliable “green” energy when most of the world continues to build/use coal.

    Hinckley C, more expensive energy to come with stupid guaranteed prices – you couldn’t make it up.

  28. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    why should we have to

  29. agricola
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Green energy in the UK is the new Dome with the addition that only a small number are making a lot of money from it, it exports manufacturing jobs and increases imports.

    Get on with fracking, the pace is abysmal and government resolve is none existent. The target date for fusion energy entering the grid is supposedly 2030. Do not let government screw up this potential source of cheap limitless green energy. Their track record since WW2 for giving away UK created technology is mind boggling.

  30. Epikouros
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    For a Conservative government to impose a price cap shows how much to the left that the party has moved. A sign of the times that the left has won the hearts and minds of a large majority of the electorate and so as to not lose complete support the Conservative party has decided to pander to the electorates left wing aspirations. From the evidence we know that price controls never work and come to that neither do other left wing ideas and policies. However the lure of the promise of what they will receive(something for nothing) if they did overrides any rational objections. It appears the people in the main prefer to to follow their emotions rather than their intellect. They will find they have made a very unwise choice.

  31. graham1946
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Market competition? What markets? It’s all an unofficial cartel. After you change once, there is not much to gain in future times as they all charge more or less the same . The new ones will be squeezed out or have to increase their prices in due course.
    Your second paragraph just confirms what I said here the other day – whatever you do the energy companies will not forgo their profits and will just adjust prices to achieve what they reckon they want.
    If we cut our usage, the unit price just goes up. My usage has been cut from what we used to consume with the purchase of efficient appliances, low energy lights etc but my bill is still at a record high for me and I change every year! I do it to make more to make a point than save money, but I know they don’t care – they don’t have to. It’s not possible to win under present circumstances, the whole thing need re-thinking. The cap is a waste of time and won’t achieve its aim or last any length of time. Why can’t it come in for this winter? Profits need to capped, not just the standard tariff cost. It’s all a big rip off and everyone knows it. Complaints about this sector are forever rising but the useless regulators do nothing but count their salaries and wait for a knighthood.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Great post ! Especially about the cap on profits.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Graham, It’s all totally obscene.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      Our usage is going down to the extent that we don’t turn on the pump on the power shower now. We just use what comes out of the shower head on normal tank fed pressure. Not great but just trying to save pennies.

      • graham1946
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, your usage may be going down and you lose a little of your lifestyle but your bills will still be going up, mark my words. Pennies saved will be turned into pounds lost and no-one in authority gives a damn – probably because they are insulated with big salaries and expense fiddles.

    • anon
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      There is a limit for unit prices to increase.

      Otherwise they will make decentralised generation worthwhile . e.g. “battery” and solar cost effective, perhaps even fuel cells.

  32. Jack
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    If the budget deficit was expanded with VAT and payroll tax cuts, and people’s wages were rising by 10% YoY, would this still be an issue? If so, we can look into investing massively in cheaper forms of energy etc. The ability of the government to do this is there, but because of misconceptions about what government “debt” really is, we are stuck in stagnation.

  33. Peter
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    The biggest mistake was to allow our energy supply companies fall into foreign hands.

    • graham1946
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

      They didn’t intend it – it just sort of happened, the way things do when there is no real plan, but just a hope for the best and a not thinking things through attitude, mostly for dogma. .
      It will happen with the NHS too if they try to privatise that. JR told me I was talking rubbish when I last raised this, but if you let shares out on the open market this is what will happen, there is no controlling it. There need be no grand takeover.

  34. Newmania
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    A typically cowardly half baked defence of the market by a man who has helped bring about the most protectionist government this country has ever seen .
    It has long fascinated me that the same people , whose political ancestors were the Free Trading Nationalist Liberals of the 19th century ignore the internal contradiction of their position.
    They unleash tribal and violent emotions so as to escape from Europe and yet they think this will end in small government state . It will not it will end with the same National Socialism we had before and the same failures.
    It is often remarked that the Labour Party wish to return to the 70s and the Conservatives to the 50ps but I put the date earlier in both cases. The Conservative Party wishes to be the stupid party , ,a phrase attributed to John Stuart Mill , which , after years of being the hub of new ideas is sad and sorry spectacle

    As for cheaper engery , quite obviously that is not in the state`s power to create . End of .

    Reply Im not sure who this is attacking. I am not a nationalist liberal and never have been, so I do not have to prove faith with politicians from so long ago.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      The violence is usually from the left. And in your language, on this site at least.

    • NickC
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Newmania, We are not trying to “escape from Europe”, we are leaving the EU. And the EU is a political construct, heir to the Roman Empire. In the meantime it is you being tribal and violent, at least in terms of your language.

      • Mitchel
        Posted October 16, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

        You’re being too generous to the EU-heir to the Holy Roman Empire surely!

        • rose
          Posted October 16, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

          And now you are insulting the HRE. Surely the EU is heir to the old Soviet Empire, as Gorbachev pointed out.

  35. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, a fairly interesting article here:

    “The UK should never have let the EU get away with being both judge and jury for Brexit”

    “The perception of weakness and division in our government only encourages the hardliners on the other side of the Channel in the virtue of their inflexibility”

    “The UK most unwisely accepted the EU27’s concept of a phased approach, in which they play judge and jury on whether sufficient progress has been achieved in stage 1 to merit moving to stage 2.

    This is daft – daft to try to create a firewall between the divorce settlement and the future relationship when the two are intimately tied; daft to demand that the UK commit in advance to paying billions before talks on the future can start. This is a derivative of the calamitous Israel-Palestine negotiating playbook, where each side demands, as a precondition for negotiations, that the other abandon its most cherished negotiating objective.

    In a normal negotiation, you put the subjects to be discussed in their respective baskets and debate them in parallel. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. That protects everyone’s interests.”

    I can only suppose that David Davis or Theresa May or their civil service advisers thought that the UK should show willing by agreeing to this procedure, which actually has no legal basis in Article 50 TEU, and that this generous and constructive gesture would encourage the enemy to reciprocate with some concessions of their own.

    If that is what they thought they sadly misunderstood the nature of the beast, and now they should make it clear that we will no longer try to proceed according to the EU’s preferred scheme for the negotiations.

  36. Prigger
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Less and less annual amounts of ice in Antartica was said to justify notions of Climate Change now the opposite. More and more ice also proves Climate Change. Both are Global Warming. It is the first time in the history of Man and Physics that there has been water which is very much frozen but is as warm as toast. It sounds like LibDem philosophy applied to H2O. Wishy-washy!

  37. Phil_Richmond
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    1) Scrap the climate change act.
    2) Stop all subsidies for renewable energy.

    Watch the market take effect.
    (it really is that easy!!)

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Australia is further down the slippery slope, with South Australia having serious problems with it’s electricity supply. People are going off grid because they cannot afford the unreliability of their National Grid. Their prices are amongst the highest in the world.
      And so many have solar panels that generate electricity (mostly from 11am to 2pm) it means that the ‘reliable power stations’ have lost yet another time slot to generate revenue to even cover their fixed costs, let alone their running costs.
      Their politicians are still wondering what to do next. 🙂

  38. Derek Henry
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Problem of course is After repeated warnings from BoE about the surging pace of lending to households, British lenders are planning the biggest cutback in consumer loans in nearly 10 years (BoE’s quarterly net balance of lenders’ expectations for the availability of unsecured lending over the next three months fell to -28.6 from -16.2.)…

    This is exactly what happens when you keep reducing the deficit and try and run budget surpluses you just force the private sector into more debt which means they can no longer take on any more credit.

    Eventually the time comes when millions concentrate on paying off debt instead of consuming. Which ultimately means job losses and the downward spiral continues like a virus.

  39. Watchcat
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Ideological commitment to silliness and wrong, is part and parcel of a socialist economy. The same goes for the allegedly free-enterprise model.There is not a comprehensive case for the continued existence of energy companies selling the same commodity and equally performing services (vital ones ) at such a variance in price.In deed, if they need an extra amount of price because they send the bill printed on shiny paper then they should be told to choose a different printer, to “shop around” and work more smartly in future.

  40. Wild Car
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    “promote more market competition ” From the village chippy and pet shop to the international conglomerate there is no free market, no competition. People talk to people. Heads talk to Heads. Generally prices are determined within their own agreed parameters. There are examples where a company undercuts but the others soon gang up on him. Hence it is hard for Canadian and UK retailers to survive in the US or all three to survive in Asia…and they don’t!!!
    Time to rid ourselves of silly left-wing and right-wing talk of Free Markets or Nationalisation. They are fixed price, fixed duff-head organised entities with their Heads walking away each day’s end with a fortune in salary stolen.

  41. libertarian
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to the conservative party… A party who now adopt the policies of 1970’s Labour a party of drips, talentless bubble dwellers and downright liars , yes you Damian Green of 3 million unemployed on Brexit fame.

    The party of virtue signalling , many state and high taxation. Staffed with self selecting nonentities

    The nation is screaming out for a modern party based on localism and iDemocracy

  42. dennisambler
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “the longer term solution to cheaper energy is to”….dump the Climate Change Act and go for the most cost effective fuels for electricity generation, with no subsidies. The ideological pursuit of the “global warming” paradigm is deeply damaging to the economy and any purported reductions of CO2, (not carbon, as it is falsely mis-named) will have no measurable impact on global climates.

    I say “climates” deliberately, because there is no one climate for the planet, any more than there is one temperature. The UK still has a temperate climate and the hottest year is still 1976. No amount of renewable energy is going to do anything about any of it.

    Temperatures around the globe are not climbing, the Arctic has the highest ice extent for many years, polar bears are fine and everything we have been told about global warming is not happening, in spite of Roger Harrabin.

  43. ian
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    People on benefits apart from JSA are already getting 140 pounds a year off their electric bills if they apply, maybe the gov should make it automatic, paid by warm front with pensioners getting 200 to 300 pounds a year for heating which is automatic. People who cannot be bothered to switch to a cheaper tariff should pay more, so what about their gas bill then, It alright to be over change on gas but not electric, the gas bill in most homes is big than the electric bill. Why not tell all energy companies to do away with standing charges on electric and gas apart an empty property, that would be a cut of 80 to 90 pounds a year on everyone bills.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree wholeheartedly that standing charges should be got rid of. They mitigate against the fuel poor and do nothing stop wasteful use of energy. If the cost is spread across the unit rate both of the above would be helped

  44. Pat
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Governments of all parties have been sold on the idea, and have loudly preached, that we need to cut CO2 emmisions to save the planet. Never mind that Chinese and Indian emmisions increase every year by more than our total. Never mind that much of the “science” supporting this is unsupported by data, which prompts me to wonder how thoroughly the rest was checked.
    They also appear to have eschewed nuclear, with the exception of Hinckley Point which has particular problems of it’s own.
    They have however instituted large subsidies for wind and solar, paid for from a “climate change levy” on cheaper fuels. And then having taxed cheap fuel they are shocked to find energy prices rising!
    Modest price caps will result in cheap tarrifs being withdrawn, in order to fund the price cuts required by the caps, and do nothing for the average. More aggressive caps will result in generation becoming uneconomic, closure of power stations, and blackouts.
    If HMG must do something to reduce CO2 emmisions then introduce a carbon tax as recommended by Lord Stern, and at the same time abolish all subsidies for wind, solar, insulation etc. as well as all regulations designed to limit CO2 production- the tax will provide more than enough incentive for people to be careful about CO2 production.
    For those like me who doubt that CO2 is nearly as dangerous as we are told, the money raised/saved would allow tax cuts elsewhere, after all we all know something is going to be taxed.
    We then simply buy electricity and power in general from the best value for money supplier, no Carbon Footprint to calculate, it’s all in the price.
    Of course this proposal would require somewhat fewer Civil Servants to administer, which would be seen as a disadvantage by the Civil Service.

  45. Atlas
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Yes John, we would prosper if the price we paid for energy reflected its actual cost. Instead we are subsidising a whole raft of people who can’t pay their bills – as a way to keep this ‘welfare’ payment off the Government’s Books. In other words, it is a stealth tax.

    Our economy was built up on energy that got cheaper and cheaper over time – until recently when the Green types who resented prosperity somehow got in control. Their innumerate notion of how much energy we need and how it is generated will be the ruin of us all.

  46. Nig l
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Why is ok to cap energy prices but not Care Costs. You make a lot about manifesto commitments but have renagued on the latter allowing often excessive profits to be made out of people’s misery or price differentiation in council run homes requiring the private to subsidise the public, yet another hidden form of taxation.

  47. Mark
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Mrs May has not learned the lesson of King Canute’s courtiers. The tide of ever more expensive energy cannot be pushed back by willing it to happen.

    Energy policy needs a complete reset, unwinding Ed Miliband’s 2010 act that required OFGEM to give primacy to green interests over consumers, and the 2008 Climate Change Act, and the various preceding measures that destroyed the competitive market we used to have. There must be an end to subsidising expensive means of energy production, and to imposing unnecessary brakes on the development of our own shale gas resources.

    With proper competition restored to energy markets at the wholesale level as well as the retail level we could expect cheaper bills, and more employment in industry, and economic growth.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry Mark. The rabble with their placards will be outside the shale gas sites making a nuisance of themselves and stopping progress and all governments will take notice of them for the votes they can get. That’s how important our economy and the ability of people to heat their homes is to them.

      • Mark
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        I have friends who live a few miles from the Preston New Road site, and who use that road reasonably frequently (I’ve been down it a few times too). Their sympathies are NOT with the protestors, who cause big traffic jams, and tie up police and court resources.

  48. ian
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Just seen that stand charges ranger from 115 pounds a year on duel fuel to 195 pounds a year on duel fuel, so if you go away a lot you better off with lower standing changes to save money instead of looking at the overall prices

  49. British Spy
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    There is no time to lose. Mrs May should resign immediately before she further places our nation and people in the gravest danger imaginable.Her complete social ignorance is but a trifle compared with her meddling in our relationship with America and Europe. “..”we share concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programme ” How frightfully stupidly the worst aspect of our Britishness, “concerns” indeed!!!!!!! about damp squibs?? etc ed

  50. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I ask you again to follow your argument where it leads. If the Regulator cannot regulate in a way that benefits us, get rid of the Regulator and all of its employees. We do not need to hire these people.

    By the way, how is Quango reduction going?

  51. Richard1
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Off topic but this morning prime time on the Today Programme went to Sir Martin Donnelly, until March perm sec at the Trade ministry. He asserted 1) that the 3rd country trade deals to which the UK is signed up as part of the EU do not automatically transfer to the UK on Brexit, and 2) that services such as lawyers wont be able to operate in the EU post Brexit if we are not in (or “very close to”) the single market. Sir Martin is of course entitled to his view, though it is little wonder the govt have not made much headway with a person with such views in such a key position for 9 months following the referendum. But who is right & whyever don’t the Govt make the answers crystal clear: Either the 3rd country treaties novate to the UK or they don’t! Has a new regulation been introduced saying only EU based lawyers can be involved in EU business? I have on many occasions over 30 years encountered US lawyers based in New York and Boston working on European business.

    The interviewer was in no position to challenge this. The Leave supporting businessman Sir John Mills got a much shorter and less satisfactory slot later on in the programme, but unfortunately chose not to address the points made by Sir Martin.

    We should not at this stage be having these broad brush assertions and counter-assertions. it ought to be possible for minsters to be definitive. Is it just communication or have they in reality no idea?

    Reply Yes, they novate and the Dept for Intl Trade is well advanced with ensuring they do!

  52. Nig l
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Apologies another thought. The big six energy company cheapest tariffs have already gone up close to 20 per cent since May as many commentators said they would, it is also suggested your cap will only meaningfully affect the most expensive.

    So it looks as if TMs policy to save me money has in fact cost me plus as mentioned earlier the effect on my pension. As a free market man you must be very proud!

  53. Dennis
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Is it known how many people can actually switch energy providers?

    I can’t as I’m on a package of gas/electricity/ phone/ internet as I expect many others are. This aspect is never mentioned.

  54. Sakara Gold
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Once the next generation of offshore wind turbines are up in the N Sea (which will be built without any government subsidy) harvesting all that free wind electricity prices will rapidly come down. Onshore battery storage solutions will be part of the infrastructure, allowing wind to be harvested at night with the electricity fed into the grid during the day. On current projections this will allow another two gas fired climate changing power stations to be shut, further bringing down energy costs. We do not need more gas, we need vanadium redox flow batteries next to renewable energy sources. Sometime in the next ten years we will go back to using electricity to keep homes warm in the winter because it will be so cheap!

    • Edward2
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      I admire your positivity and I do hope engineers create and develop the pollution free solutions for your vision.
      We do need a mixture of energy sources.
      But. ..if you take away subsidies, coal and gas and oil are several times cheaper that any “renewable”
      Battery storage is developing but it is very expensive..a household would need to invest 10k.
      And a city would need a battery farm the size of a village costing hundreds of millions.

    • Mark
      Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      We’re still a very long way away from having wind farms built without subsidy. Of course, we’re also subsidising tidal turbines, solar farms, burning wood chips, anaerobic digesters, landfill gas plants, small hydro schemes, Hinkley Point, and many more. Meanwhile, batteries are a very long way from being used for storage between night and day except in a handful of homes that have more money than sense. The reason there is investment in batteries attached to the grid is to deal with the effects of wind gusts and lulls on the order of seconds, and likewise when a cloud passes over a solar farm. The storage capacities involved are measured in minutes. At the moment the grid balancing between supply and demand on these short timescales relies on massive generators and motors which have enough rotational inertia (a flywheel effect) to power the entire grid for several seconds without any fuel input, and thus adequate reserve to handle fluctuations of a couple of hundred megawatts. Switch more of those generators off and rely on wind, and if you don’t arrange to keep supply and demand continuously balanced, the grid becomes unstable, grid frequency moves too far away from 50Hz, and you get blackouts. It is not yet known how well the battery systems will perform this task when they have to be relied on day in day out for years on end.

      • anon
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        As the size of the turbines increase so does the power by a factor more. The costs as a proportion fall. As larger units become standard costs will drop sharply as old units are replaced.

        Look also at the dual power(electric gas) turbine technology that pumps gas/oil to shore.
        All improving the cost benefits until a tipping point is reached.

        Balancing the grid maybe an issue but solutions will be made, that’s what engineers etc do.

    • stred
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      SG. Why can’t you understand that windfarms, even the latest huge turbines in the middle of the North Sea, only work for 40% of the time at best? THe price to the consumer of those to be built will be 3x that of gas at present deals. The latest under tender are nearer to the gas price but not dispatchable and need expense to connect them and manage the missing supply. The only backup generators that can be flexible enough to provide back up are gas, diesel or, to a lesser extent, burning American trees- which saves no CO2 in practice. The Chinese are building coal stations all over the world and at home which will increase coal burning by 45%, while we have almost closed it down. And now the goons want to close down gas too.

      The Hinkley Point nuke costs us £20bn. The Finnish twin nuke was supposed to cost a fraction of the final price of £10bn and has been delayed again. They are now building one of the nukes that work and cost much less per KWh. Our civil servants have explained to the Energy Committee that we are getting a good deal.

      Is there anyone working for Mrs May who understands the figures?

  55. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    As usual my comments on energy are not included. Don’t know why I bother. Perhaps they will go in later when everyone’s read todays blog? Maybe some of the content is hard to believe but I know it’s true.

  56. Jim Neill
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    You guys over there had better get real and real soon..your whole country is in danger of being designated a second world place with the trajectory you’re on now..not alone will you drag down britain but you will drag down my country, Ireland, as well.

    UK politicians both conservatives and Labour, are not speaking the truth to the public of the grave consequences of your departure from the largest, and richest trading bloc in the world instead you’re all playing these games of bluff and pretense with your heads stuck in the sand, trying to get the upper hand on each other while the country is going down the pan, all talk about getting new trade deals with countries globally is fake news just that, there is nothing there, nothing happening globally that could ever compensate for the deal that you will lose if you depart the customs union, that’s for sure, for if there were Liam Fox would have announced it by now. It’s all pie in the sky.

    What your brexiteer politicians in the tory right wing are at is trying to set up a seperate european trading bloc with the british at the top in competition with the EU but it won’t work because the EU are on to you and will hold what to do now? How to proceed? The old british empir is gone and not coming back.

    In the meantime here’s a question to test brexiteers resolve; in the event of a hard brexit, a crash out, do any of you see a scenario where the consequences of a ‘no deal’ would be so serious so bad for UK as to warrant a rethink on the whole situation or do you all think that no matter what the consequences are – you’re dislike of everything to do with the EU is so great – that no matter what- you’re all going over the cliff together? Crazy stuff

    Reply jUst stop scare mongering. We will be fine under WTO rules

  57. graham1946
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Why is there a need for different tariffs anyway? – it’s all the same stuff coming out of the wall. You can’t order some ‘de luxe’ electricity or gas, you cant have any extras added like buying a car. Why not just charge everyone the same price – why should the people who pay by cash meter pay more, when they are paying in advance, whilst I pay in arrears? I know some of it is geographical because they say it costs more to send it to remote areas, but why not just average it all out, then there would be no need for all the messing about looking to save a penny here and there. I know the wealthy ones will scream ‘foul’ because they will not want to pay any more whilst they are quite content to see people in poverty and old age go without, having to decide on heating or eating.

  58. Peter D Gardner
    Posted October 14, 2017 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    The Government is behaving like the EU: the problem is too much Government intervention so the solution is more government intervention.
    NO, no, no. The solution is less government intervention, specifically its vastly expensive subsidies of and regulations favouring green energy.

  59. Pound for pound
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Well if people are more and more storing energy in fat then we are producing too much energy. Keep it at the same price but reduce its availability. You can have too much of good thing. Ask a Hollywood actress.

  60. Cigarist
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    I hear Hillary Clinton has been given some honour from a Welsh University. That’s made the case in the strongest possible terms for dismantling Welsh devolution, sacking every so called academic in Wales who agreed to it. They CAN read . But do not understand a bless-ed word of what they read. Personally I’d cancel their General and Local elections until they have all had basic education.

  61. JM
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Not sure price caps will work. Prices will tend to congregate around the cap whatever it is from time to time. It is not for government to fix the price of things.

    There are two real problems:
    1) That the energy companies quote in terms that are difficult to compare with each other and which do not always relate to the units on a customer’s meter. There has to be a standardised basis of energy quotation which is in the same units as customers’ meters and as they are billed in. For example, quotes can be in BTUs, which is meaningless to most of us, yet gas is billed in cubic metres. Only if they all have to quote on the same basis and in the same units as the bill and meter is it possible to make effective price comparison and to check that what is being provided is what was offered.

    2) That it is acceptable practice to shaft loyal customers. (This is a widespread problem affecting both the energy providers and banks and financial services.) It should be made unacceptable to charge long-term customers more. Not sure how this can be achieved, but there must be a way to prevent it.

  62. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you John for including my comments after all. Better late than never.

  63. Iain Gill
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    A large part of the problem is the terrible quality of new build homes in the UK.

    We have become the producer of the worst quality houses in the world. And poor quality housing is expensive to heat and maintain.

    Our predecessors would be appalled.

  • 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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