Coping with cold, the energy question

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Last winter 2009-2010 was rather harsh in the UK, which caused thousands of families in Wales not being able to afford to heat their homes adequately.

The Bevan Foundation has issued a comprehensive report ( http://www.bevanfoundation.org/resources/%2427Coping_with_Cold%2427_Final_PDF.pdf [Broken] )

From the conclusion:

The implications of these findings are that they call into question the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures alone in tackling fuel poverty. Such measures help people who stay warm in winter to reduce their costs, but they don’t necessarily help people who stay cold and are afraid of potentially high charges.

...

The second main conclusion of this research is that the energy market in Wales has not
operated as effectively as envisaged.

...

We thus support the view that a re-think of how we tackle fuel poverty is necessary, and in doing so thought needs to be given on how to ensure people do not stay cold in winter and feel able to enjoy a warm home.
The purpose of this thread is to discuss visions and opinions about the quality of energy policy in general in the light of this report. Do you think that decisions about energy policy in your country or in general are adequate to cope with all elements about energy? like availability, security, affordability, contingencies?

Secondly, should a government activily prevent fuel poverty by financial support of the victims?

Can we do better?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
cobalt124
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Can we do better?
I believe we can. Since all the utilities were privatised, profit has been the main motivation, and any other consideration comes afterwards. Private investment has improved things, but IMO this mentality is a problem. And unregulated corporate greed is a problem, both for the environment and for poor households in any winter, let alone harsh ones.

From the report: "There is a need for a rethink of the fuel poverty strategy that moves beyond simply focusing on energy efficiency."

Yet another situation where technology alone will not save us.

Having said that, and skim read the report, heres what I think would improve the situation:

1) Stop making money/bonuses/shareholders the top priority. Start making consumers the top priority. Enough profit to provide the service, including availability, security, affordability, contingencies.

2) Regulate the utilities, minimal government involvement, utilities should be able to provide sufficient services themselves, something they could steer their profits to.

3) Make houses energy efficient, starting with poorer households, and do it for free for poorer households

4) Eliminate the need for all of the coping situations employed in poor households
 
  • #3
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i thought european policy was to tax energy punitively to keep people from using it.

sounds like it's working? or is it only petrol that is made unaffordable?
 
  • #4
cobalt124
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i thought european policy was to tax energy punitively to keep people from using it.

sounds like it's working? or is it only petrol that is made unaffordable?
http://www.vatconsulting.co.uk/vat_rates.htm

Gas and electric are taxed at 5%

http://www.petrolprices.com/fuel-tax.html [Broken]

Fuel at least at 75%
 
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  • #5
mheslep
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Last winter 2009-2010 was rather harsh in the UK, which caused thousands of families in Wales not being able to afford to heat their homes adequately.

The Bevan Foundation has issued a comprehensive report ( http://www.bevanfoundation.org/resources/%2427Coping_with_Cold%2427_Final_PDF.pdf [Broken] )
The report shows UK gas and electric index pricing here:
25a58k4.png

The most immediate question is what is behind the price increases in the UK? The 90's show the expected decreases following deregulation. The ~ 2007-8 spike tracks the world price increase in oil, and the subsequent collapse, but in the UK prices have continued to climb beyond that prior high, unlike in the US. Why? I see no attempt at an explanation in a quick scan of the report.
 
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  • #6
apeiron
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in the UK prices have continued to climb beyond that prior high, unlike in the US. Why? I see no attempt at an explanation in a quick scan of the report.
Lol, Mheslep - Peak oil/gas in the North Sea and free market fundamentalism!

Consumers have been warned by City analysts that the energy price increases are just a taste of things to come.
Experts at Unicredit banks said the switch to green generation, the building of wind farms and nuclear power stations, as well as the installation of smart meters in every home, will send bills rocketing.
They concluded: ‘A typical UK energy bill could rise from the current level of £1,000 per year to over £2,000 per year by 2015.
‘As investment occurs, bills could double every five years until 2020.’ The increases would far outpace rises in earnings, they warned, meaning many more households would suffer so-called fuel poverty.
This is where more than 10 per cent of disposable income is spent on heat and light.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1346266/Families-hit-fuel-food-bills-double-years.html
Politicians in Britain have complained that other countries in the EU have failed to deregulate their gas markets, and allow the UK to buy gas to import. Of the 25 countries in the EU, 23 are gas importers so they have little incentive to sell any of the gas they have. Only Denmark and Holland are gas exporters [EuroGas. statistics 2004, pdf file. Natural Gas Sales and Supplies, p6]. Gas pipelines are major hazard installations, with significant impact on the communities they pass through, and very expensive to build. Extra pipelines for sending gas to other countries are rarely built. Other gas importing countries in the EU have relied on long term contracts to ensure reliable gas supplies at a reasonable price, this has worked better than a deregulated free market for them.

http://www.depletion-scotland.org.uk/gas_deptn.htm
 
  • #7
mheslep
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Lol, Mheslep - Peak oil/gas in the North Sea and free market fundamentalism!
That first quote about expensive green energy certainly doesn't support your first point. The larger article does refer to North Sea gas depletion. Peak oil/gas though in common usage refers to a global issue; if it is to be used every time a given field depletes the phrase has little meaning. Also, if the problem is indeed depletion in the North Sea along with little or no planning to pipe in new gas, then "free market fundamentalism!" is irrelevant, as re-regulated gas wouldn't improve the situation in the UK.

Edit: up thread someone said the VAT on heating fuel was ~5%?
The pain is further compounded by the Government’s VAT increase to 20 per cent.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...el-food-bills-double-years.html#ixzz1EBjn2PaP
 
  • #8
apeiron
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That first quote about expensive green energy certainly doesn't support your first point. The larger article does refer to North Sea gas depletion. Peak oil/gas though in common usage refers to a global issue; if it is to be used every time a given field depletes the phrase has little meaning. Also, if the problem is indeed depletion in the North Sea along with little or no planning to pipe in new gas, then "free market fundamentalism!" is irrelevant, as re-regulated gas wouldn't improve the situation in the UK.
To be accurate, it said wind and nuclear - the new green I guess. o:). And the point being validated is that when cheap oil/gas runs out, the next step becomes more expensive.

The economic impact of local peaks of course give a view of what global peaks look like. And are you forgetting that Hubert's curve was a model developed first for fields, only later being extrapolated to nations and planets?

The free market issue is precisely that the UK market does not seem to have delivered. You could argue that this is because other countries did not join in and play the same game.
 
  • #9
cobalt124
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Edit: up thread someone said the VAT on heating fuel was ~5%?
From my first link:

"Reduced rate of 5%. This applies to supplies of electricity and gas supplied to domestic accommodation. Also, a number of developments and approved works under the urban regeneration initiative can use this rate."

I believe the 20% in the Daily Mail article you linked is referring to the VAT increase being introduced and not specifically relating this to energy price increases.
 
  • #10
mheslep
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To be accurate, it said wind and nuclear - the new green I guess. o:). And the point being validated is that when cheap oil/gas runs out, the next step becomes more expensive.
In the long term that is not the case: wood, then coal and whale oil, then fossile oil and gas, energy becoming cheaper per unit at each step.
 

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