Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/515/3588

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 January 2008

Editorial

Renationalise the energy industry

With the price of oil going over $100 a barrel, the main energy suppliers are using it as an excuse to increase fuel prices and boost their already bloated profits.

Flooded with Debt, photo Suz www.squashdonkey.co.uk

Flooded with Debt, photo Suz www.squashdonkey.co.uk

Household fuel prices have nearly doubled in the last four years, yet Npower, Britain's fourth largest energy provider, is now putting up gas prices by 17% and electricity prices by 13%, affecting 6.8 million customers immediately. Npower households will suffer an average rise of 95 a year for gas and 64 for electricity, bringing the total annual spending for dual-fuel households to over 1,000.

The five other major power companies are set to follow suit, so household energy costs for everyone are likely to rise by 10-15%.

What you pay depends on where you live, as the power companies are tending to introduce regional variations. Npower is charging its highest prices in London and the East Midlands.

The energy multinationals are quick to pass on increases in wholesale fuel prices, but deliberately slow to pass on reductions. Gas wholesale prices have fluctuated widely, so they make large sums of money out of these tactics.

When wholesale prices fell in January 2006, it took them over a year to start cutting prices to customers, and then it was by only half what it should have been. Even when Npower announced price cuts in February 2007, it did not implement them until 30 April.

Not inevitable

Much of the media portrays the price increases as tough but inevitable. But they are not inevitable. There are no shortages at present of gas or oil and in any case, the energy companies negotiated their present wholesale prices months or years ago.

The energy conglomerates are not innocent victims of wholesale prices, as they have interests in the oil and gas industries that mean they benefit directly from high wholesale prices. For instance, Npower's parent group, Germany-based RWE, owns and develops its own gas and oil fields.

Last year the European Commission declared that some of Europe's energy firms were deliberately holding back gas supplies in order to drive up prices.

Also last year, RWE declared post-tax profits of over 4,000 million euros for 2006, almost double their 2005 bonanza. Centrica, the parent of British Gas, made an operating profit of 533 million in the first six months of 2007.

Meanwhile rising debts are hitting ordinary people ever harder at a time when the credit crunch is making loan providers less sympathetic to those with poor credit histories. Nearly ten million people reached their maximum credit limit on one form of credit at some time in the last six months and research suggests that over a quarter of people find their debts 'unmanageable'.

With this background, an estimated 3.5 million of the poorest households will be spending over 10% of their income on fuel. There were over 23,000 cold-related deaths last winter, mainly of pensioners; this tragedy could worsen this year as more people are forced to choose between heating and food.

Six million people have to live with fuel pre-payment meters and are particularly penalised, as it costs up to 300 a year extra to pre-pay than to pay by direct debit. A third of households - mainly the poorest - do not have home internet access and one in twelve has no access to a bank account, effectively excluding them from the cheapest energy deals.

Privatisation

Fearing that anger over fuel prices will be directed at the government, chancellor Alistair Darling berated the industry 'regulator', Ofgem. But this privatisation-worshipping government cannot control fuel prices, as the gas industry was privatised by the Tories in 1986 and electricity in 1990.

Before privatisation, elected parliamentary representatives could exert some control over how these industries were run, what prices were charged to households and how profits were reinvested back into developing power production and supply. As nationalised industries, they were never run in a genuinely democratic manner with full public accountability as they would be in a socialist society, but there was at least some check on the play of 'market forces'.

Privatisation has deliberately allowed big business vultures and parasite fatcats to extract maximum profit for themselves. This is at the expense of adequate investment to develop the power industry and to do it in an environmentally friendly way. It is also at the direct expense of every household in Britain, now being forced to feed the insatiable greed habit of the power industry owners.

Privatisation was presented as a way of introducing competition and lowering prices. But price increases are outweighing reductions, from all the 'competitors', and the last thing most people want is a confusing array of energy providers who all supply exactly the same energy.

The socialist demands urgent re-nationalisation of the power companies for the provision of affordable, environmentally clean energy and for free fuel for pensioners. It will also continue, during 2008, to argue the need for a fundamental transformation of society, to socialism, so that such vital services are never placed in private hands again.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 10 January 2008:

Fight for socialism!

Defeat the pay limit

Feature: Socialism and democracy needed to reshape the world


Socialist Party workplace news

Postal workers fight to defend the Burslem 12

Scrooge employers attack shop workers

Building workers fight for real union representation

Fighting council cuts

Industrial news in brief


Socialist Party editorial

Renationalise the energy industry


Socialist Party news and analysis

Police ballot for industrial rights

Straw provokes POA

Soaring food prices hit world's poor

Big business hands off our NHS!

The privateers are taking over


International socialist news and analysis

Pakistan: Mass opposition to Musharraf regime after Benazir killing

Kenya: Stolen election explodes into mass anger and bloodshed


Socialist Party feature

Victory! Tenants beat 1 million sell-off campaign


Obituary

Obituary: Andrew Glyn


Socialist Party review

Review: Marx's Das Kapital: a biography, by Francis Wheen


 

Home   |   The Socialist 10 January 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Energy:

triangleHurricane Harvey: A tragedy made far worse by capitalism

triangleCorbyn's manifesto: An important step in the right direction

triangleTories out! Corbyn can win with socialist policies

triangleTheatre review: Fracked! Political satire skewers frackers

triangle47,000 kids exposed to illegal toxic air

Gas:

triangleAnti-fracking campaigners' legal fight

triangleHundreds evacuated after Labour council dismisses cracks in tower blocks

triangleGMB union should support anti-fracking campaigners in Fylde

triangleToxic fracking could start in England in 2017

Fuel:

triangleGrangemouth oil refinery strike

Households:

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

Privatisation:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Oil:

triangleTories and Blairites in pockets of big business: kick them out!

Profits:

triangleAirwave jobs strike

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

triangle25 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2