British Gas is once again raising energy prices. Their argument is based on the ever understood prognosis that energy is running out so, naturally, bills increasing by 15% a year (around £100 for most families) is something we all have to live with: a put up and shut up philosophy.

Being the climate responsible generation, having to listen to this sort of news is becoming second nature: we understand why prices are going up. In fact, we’re the generation brought up learning about this sort of stuff, aren’t we? Why would we look beyond an argument that supports what our teachers have told us (that greedy consumption is not sustainable), especially when the reaction that there’s no such thing as climate change is business talk; corrupt, misinformed, something our uneducated parents would say.

They are there to make a profit and, like all profit-first modern companies…

I’m divided. I agree that producing electricity from finite resources is unsustainable; investment should be furthered into producing hydroelectric systems, which would produce a plentiful supply of electricity, but then I am also a fan of other large scale projects like an enhanced rail system and a unified water network: I am a humanist and a nimbyist’s worst nightmare. I am for projects that ameliorate human existence and life around us. What I don’t agree with is that finite resources are running out quick enough for such substantial rises.

If these energy companies were putting money into new facilities like hydroelectricity (I purposely omit solar energy – it is not worthwhile in the UK), if they were creating energy for the future, then I would understand such major annual rate rises, but they’re not. Energy companies are merely administrators, efficiency drivers who have taken over essential civic assets. What we forget, because it is so easy to mistake these companies as parts of the government, is that these are only businesses. They are there to make a profit and, like all profit-first modern companies, they do not care about the needs of their fellow man but how much they can get away with: how much they can squeeze from their cash cow before it breaks.

…it can work if that civic amenity is with an outsider…

In no small way, they are like the banks: they form an essential civic entity that is needed: you need a place to store money safely and you need energy. Banks on the one hand have been perfectly happy to take your money off your hands, playing with it carefully through loans and mortgages. The last few decades which saw too much money being placed in the hands of too few ruined that system. So with banks, it can work if that civic amenity is with an outsider; they get a fantastic return for fairly little effort.

With utilities however it is completely different. Think about being the administrator of a whole region’s energy. What do you as a private company really get out of it? How could you in any way run it more cheaply and with more experience than the state? The only reason would be influence. There are plenty of contemporary instances of energy companies being owned by nationalised and part-nationalised energy companies (EDF (France), Eon (Germany), npower (Germany)) that give market-competing countries – France and Germany aren’t military enemies, but they are powerful economic ones – control over not only prices, but also the import locations of energy, which in turn opens the UK up to far more hostile areas of the world: Russia, China and the Middle East.

…I do not trust profit-focused energy companies to represent Britain…

It’s obvious to me that utilities companies should be owned by the state, so the state can set energy prices honestly and reasonably: it doesn’t need to make a profit in this case. Yes, as a state we would have to seek energy from Russia and lands further afield, which do not share our liberty-centred ideology, but we would do so with the power that the state carries. It may sound overblown but you need only look at the Ukraine to see how sour diplomatic relations can so easily reduce a country to a kneeling position, and I do not trust profit-focused energy companies to Britain better than the FCO.

I recently posed this all to a friend; not only did he tend to agree with me but he even went further. Terrorism is a fact of life; the only reason we hear less and less of it in our daily lives is because of a highly trained anti-terrorism squad, and evermore draconian terror laws. But, if you really wanted to disrupt a country, wouldn’t you target their energy facilities? With them gone the place would come to a standstill.

…removed from personal greed, foreign politics…

Unexplainable and accountable price rises based on a greed mentality, the threat of terrorism and the actual ownership of our facilities by foreign countries make the case that all energy companies must be nationalised. They must be the one institution (something I’d also extend to the water companies) that is removed from personal greed, foreign politics and is devotedly protected from harm. Only in such a system will prices not vary, will we be able to move into a sustainable energy system, and will our energy never be hold to ransom by another country.

 

About The Author

Finance Manager

I have worked consistently in journalism for the past six years. More than half of that at MouthLondon. I hope you enjoy reading my articles and add yours soon.

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