Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Power to the People

It will have come as no surprise to anyone following the great British energy swindle that the third of our big six energy companies has just announced another 18% rise in the price of gas and electricity.
Scottish and Southern Electric [SSE], formerly known as Scottish Hydro, has followed Scottish Power and British Gas in increasing charges by almost 4 times the rate of inflation for its 9 million UK customers. The company blamed the rising cost of gas on world markets for their decision. However, unlike the previous two companies they also took a swipe at Government legislation which forces them to contribute towards fuel poverty initiatives like the 'Warm Home Fund' blaming such 'mandatory environmental and social schemes' for eating into their profits. Heaven forfend anyone poor should get in the way of SSE's record profits, up 50 % in the past 5 years to £1.3bn or the £8m bonuses paid to its top four Executives for that matter!
No wonder public contempt for the energy companies is now at such unprecedented levels!
These companies have forced more than 10 million families in Britain into fuel poverty and have done so with undisguised contempt. SSE, for example have just been found guilty at Guildford Crown Court of using illegal sales methods to mislead people about their price tariffs in a concerted effort to win 'vulnerable' customers away from other suppliers. In a move only matched in its rapidity by Murdoch's decision to close down the News of the World, SSE wound up its sales division with the loss of 900 jobs before the full implications of this particular 'Pandora's box' could be fully inspected.
Scottish Power's charges go up 18% from August 1st. British Gas and SSE have announced similar rises. It is only be a matter of days now before Eon, EDF and Npower each make the same announcement and force millions more hard pressed families into fuel poverty in Britain.
This situation makes a mockery of the free market and privatised power as the price of essentials like gas and electricity rises beyond the reach of millions of families. And perhaps the craziest news yet is that UK investment in gas fired power stations is at record levels as the so called 'diversified energy policy' with its 'basket of energy sources' is rendered useless by the continued and prolonged 'dash for gas'. The answer to this increasingly brutal situation is of course to invest not in gas but in renewables and for the entire energy industry to be brought back into public hands. But that won't happen under the Tories, Labour or the SNP who persist with an energy policy based on greed not need.

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