Recently we learnt that the regulator is calling on the big six energy corporations to cut consumer prices in light of the steady fall in the wholesale price of gas and electricity. Ofgem said that at the start of this month wholesale gas prices reached their lowest level since September 2010 and were 38% below the price for this time last year. Prices for electricity reached their lowest level since April 2010, and are currently 23% lower than June 2013 (For more details see The Guardian).
In response to this all the usual reasons were trotted out, such as “we buy the gas in advance” or “we have other costs that are rising”. But I’m pretty sure most of us will treat these excuses with the contempt they deserve. I for one am very angry at how badly these giant corporations can, and do, treat us. A sentiment that I’m sure is shared by a majority in this country.
Now an intervention by the regulator may sound great, but before we get excited, it does appear to be just a letter. So hardly a stick to ensure that prices are reduced. However, that the regulator should intervene in this way just shows to me that the free market in energy supply is a sham, working for the benefit of the energy corporations rather than the consumer.
More worryingly the failure to cut consumer prices, particularly at a time when living standards have fallen, exposes the impotency of our coalition government. Fuel poverty is a reality in this country and while the corporations continue to rip us off, those in power do nothing.
What’s more, we could be reducing our reliance on the big six and at the same time, our dependence on fossil fuels. But rather than take us towards a future based on conservation and renewables, the government has seemingly succumbed to the demands of corporate Britain and cut support for greener energy. As Natalie Bennett says in The Ecologist, the government has left us ranked 26th out of 28 in Europe for percentage of energy generated from renewables, ahead of just Malta and Luxembourg. Frankly that is an appalling record.
Personally, I think that until we get a government prepared to challenge the status quo, perhaps introducing democratic control, local grids, investing in renewables, and taking a substantial public stake in energy supply, then the corporations will go on filling their pockets at our expense.