Ryeview – November 2008

Energy should be owned by public

John Clark writes…

First published: November 2008 – Gazette & Herald

The nationalization of the banks was proposed by Michael Foot in ‘the longest suicide note in history’ – the 1983 general election address. Those who opposed the public ownership have made us all pay billions of pounds to the banks in obscene profits. Not to mention the massive bonuses of the ‘spivs’.

In the beginning of 2008 the price of oil was rocketing upwards. Why was he retail price of gas going up? The only reason given, was gas is traditionally linked to the price of oil: if the price of oil rises the price of gas increases in parallel. Now that the price of a barrel of oil has halved why has the price of gas stayed at its peak? The ‘fat cats’ are once again lining their pockets at our expense. Banks abused the British public until the whole lot collapsed. Energy moguls will abuse us until that lot collapses. We could do much better. Energy in the form of gas, electricity and oil should all belong to the people. Under the present system gas, electricity and oil are sold to the smaller users at a much higher price than to the big users. It is totally wrong that a pensioner should pay more for a unit of electricity than a unit of electricity bought by a cement company. Worse than this, those on a pre-pay meter pay more than those who pay the bill quarterly. Even worse than that, the ‘early’ units on a quarterly bill are dearer than the ‘later’ units. The smaller user is again penalised.

To protect the environment we need to reduce energy consumption. However our market driven government has no means of reducing energy consumption. So why is the above pyramid not inverted? If the energy giants were in public hands there would be no need for a windfall tax; profits would be publicly owned and could be used for our benefit. Government would be able to control not only the price but also the structure.

  • The price for the first so many units of gas, electricity or oil could be very low.
  • The next amount (up to average household usage?) could be at a price less than at present.
  • From then on the price per unit could increase dramatically.

In the winter months the ‘first’ units could be free, or maybe free to all pensioners and those on family credit. Where the line was drawn could remove the need for Winter Fuel payments and dramatically reduce or even remove fuel poverty. This would reduce energy use, lower energy bills and the profits from oil, gas and electricity would go into the public coffers rather than the pockets of the ‘fat cats’.

The case for public ownership of energy is straightforward and logical. It has taken a quarter of a century to deliver the 1983 Labour promise on banks. How long will it take to put the energy companies into public ownership? In public ownership energy would be economically fairer, better for the environment and socially far more just. In a word, it would be ‘sustainable’.

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