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The ‘Conspiracy’ That Keeps Energy Prices Rising

A MEETING between the Prime Minister, the Energy Secretary and energy companies took place yesterday against a background of growing anger among consumers over rising energy costs. The solution, according to the government, is for consumers to shop around for a better deal. But are we missing something?

Why bother shopping?

Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary was right when he urged customers to shop around, says an editorial in The Times. But in reality, “you have to be a maths professor to check your energy bill” and understand the complexity of tariffs.

Why are we even stuck with this tedious chore, asks Daniel Knowles in The Daily Telegraph. “The Government, or the regulator, ought to be perfectly capable of working out the cheapest price and insisting suppliers sell to us at that.”

Why hasn’t anything been done?

The real scandal over the “Big Six” energy companies is why the regulator, Ofgem, has taken so long to wake up and act, says Terry Macalister in The Guardian. This unofficial cartel has “been running roughshod over the needs of consumers for a decade”.

Ofgem has revealed that power providers are making £125 profit per customer, compared with £15 a few months ago, and has set in motion initiatives to ensure that smaller independent companies are not kept out of the supply markets. But the regulator seems to only be responding now “a political hurricane is blowing”.

Green taxes to blame

There’s someone else to blame for rising energy costs, says an editorial in The Daily Mail. The Coalition is committed to green taxes which already add £100 to domestic bills and place an intolerable burden on the businesses we depend upon for recovery.

Leaving aside the questionable science of climate change, and the burden to business, “the real scandal is that ordinary domestic consumers” are expected to pay.

The solution we’re not told about

There may be a solution, says Philip Johnston in The Daily Telegraph. A cross-party select committee has suggested that developing the new industry of shale gas fracking could reduce our dependency on world energy prices and “meet the UK’s fuel needs for decades”.

But it seems there is a conspiracy to keep this from the public, adds Johnston. The “greens are determined to kill it off because it is not a renewable source”, the big energy companies don’t want to know, and the Government is lukewarm. “Why are we kept in the dark?”

The First Post, 18 October 2011