Thursday, 21 February 2008

Soaring Energy Costs and Soaring Profits

I'm pleased to hear that Ofgem is to investigate the energy market in response to concerns about soaring costs for consumers.

However, this will be a long process and there is no guarantee that anything will change as a result.

I'm not naive - I know companies like British Gas exist to make profit. Most people don't object to that (depending on how ethically that profit is generated and how excessive it is). But, boy, British Gas have made a substantial profit from us! And when that profit comes at the expense of people who are struggling to pay their rocketing fuel bills, to do basic things like heat their homes and cook their food, that profit does become immoral in my view.

Regular readers of this blog will know that the issue of fuel poverty is one that I feel passionate about. I'm not exaggerating when I say that people are literally dying from the cold in this country because they can't afford to heat their homes. Low incomes, like miserly state pensions, are part of the problem - but high fuel prices form the other part of the equation.

I think it's disgraceful that companies can make such an obscene profit from a product that is a basic requirement. We need energy to heat our homes, to turn on our lights when it's dark and to cook our food. Yes, there are a range of energy suppliers and switching can save some money - but there isn't that much of a price difference really.

The way that energy was privatised has left us in a bit of a mess in my opinion. I can't see any immediate remedy. I just wonder how the British Gas bosses, and their counterparts in the other energy companies, can sleep soundly knowing that their wealth comes at the expense of ordinary people who have very little choice about paying the high charges for the fuel that they need.

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