Our messy system of subsidies and regulation allows the grid companies to pass on all their costs to the consumer plus a healthy guaranteed profit, encouraging operators to cut costs and pay out to their shareholders. As customers in such a system we can do nothing about it, even though energy network costs make up around a quarter of our bill; it is risk-free monopoly capitalism at its most perverse. There is a better solution. Public ownership of these networks would remove the commercial incentive to exploit their position – and exploit it they have. We’ve become accustomed to the idea that if you don’t change energy supplier you’ll be overcharged, but the energy grid is just as bad. They’ve overcharged customers by £7.5bn over the last 8 years, according to Citizens Advice, and run a profit margin of 19%. This is a rip-off that’s gone on too long, and one that tinkering from the regulator won’t fix. Our energy system should have tackling climate change at its heart, but private ownership of our grids is holding us back. We know that local energy is often the greenest, but operators have little incentive to make it easy for such projects to be hooked up to the grid – it’s a process that can currently take years. Communities from Cornwall to Hackney are queueing up to connect to the grid, but the time and cost is prohibitive. A publicly-owned grid could be mandated to connect up communities fast, boosting renewables and helping us get the clean green energy we need. Taking the grid into public control is a radical idea, but one whose time has come. Professor Dieter Helms’ independent review of the cost of energy for the Government recommended bringing some aspects of National Grid into the public sector, an uncomfortable home truth for a regime wedded to privatisation. Public ownership of the grid forms a core part of Labour’s plan for the energy sector, a commitment recently reaffirmed by Jeremy Corbyn. In Germany, hundreds of communities have taken back control of their energy grids. We Own It has long called for our energy system to be publicly owned, and we’re backed by the public: 77% want to see energy in public hands.
Open Democracy 14th March 2018 read more »
Electricity markets in the UK, Ireland and continental Europe are physically linked by ‘interconnector’ cables. These benefit energy system operators and consumers by reducing prices. They can also help integrate renewable electricity and ensure security of supply. This note discusses these benefits, proposals for future increases in interconnection and the potential effects of Brexit.
Parliament 9th Feb 2018 read more »