Friday, 27 September 2013
Has Red Ed missed the point?
Don't get me wrong - the big six have contrived to charge us way too much for energy, for way too long. However, Red Ed's solution to freeze the prices for a limited period, seems to me to completely miss the point and leaves the renewable energy sector dangerously open to the erroneous Tory
critique that the feed in tariff subsidies are to blame! (The fossil fuel subsidies strangely never seem to crop up!)
I'm the first in line to shout about the energy price hikes and the inexorable increase of households that are slipping into fuel poverty and having to make a decision about whether it will be food or fuel, but I'm not sure a price freeze really hits at the illness, but rather tries ineffectively to soothe the symptoms?
Isn't the issue really around supply and demand? If we can reduce our personal demand then our bills go down. It's not really in the energy companies interest to help us to reduce our energy consumption with tips and advice, the Government periodically have campaigns about energy efficiency - but there are simple, yet extremely effective ways that we can reduce our consumption. With smart phones and apps, in home energy monitors can give people a constant understanding of what energy is being consumed in their home. Armed with an energy monitor a game of hunt the appliance can be a great way of seeing what is drawing energy while you're asleep/ on holiday etc. Our wi-fi gives the lounge a flashing Christmassy feel all year round, the amplifier gives our cupboard a tropical feel (note to self - move orchid there) All these vampire appliances are happily consuming energy and running up our bills.
My point is, that perhaps we should be given some tools to fight back at the energy companies where it hurts, ie their profits, by reducing what we require from them. We can't rely on the energy companies for the advice, should it come from Government? - or maybe the multitude of cooperatives and community energy groups that are joining forces to bring community energy into the ownership of the community and helping people reduce their consumption.
We all know that the energy industry is a can of worms - and a dangerous political one at that. No politician will want to take the lid off until the system is at such a breaking point that we're having the occasional brown out. But, the fields of diesel generators are lying in wait for that day (so we don't quite get to see the critical nature of our over stretched capacity)
So, has Ed began to slowly open that can...He may have missed the point and be wanting a populous crowd pleaser, but hopefully the energy debate can continue......