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DECC ministers meetings

The Department of Energy & Climate Change has issued the latest lists of meetings attended by ministers. It appears that Huhne and his buddies are still vigorously resisting any possibility of speaking to anyone who might question anything they do - only energy companies and environmentalists are welcome. Trespassers will be prosecuted.

I was intrigued by a meeting attended by Huhne's deputy Greg Barker. Barker met with energy retailers to discuss, among other things, "information on consumers' bills". Is this where the government says "you will not break out the cost of green taxes on bills under any circumstances"?

I've written to ask.

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Reader Comments (45)

Buff Huhne, whom we are expected to trust to guide our future energy policy, has previous form in being a poor predictor of the future. Jeff Randall in todays Daily Telegraph (27th June) points out that Huhne was a co author of a paper from the London School of Economics in 2002 "Why Britain should join the Euro". He was wrong then and he will be wrong again but this time we'll pay heavily for his lack of judgement.

Jun 27, 2011 at 8:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

I noticed recently that it gets a mention in British Gas's online billing system, where they include this little pie chart.

It doesn't specifically mention subsidies, but it doesn't need too much interpretation. The suppliers are clearly keen not to have to take the rap for all the DECC nonsense, so your analysis sounds about right!

Jun 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


Huhne appears to serve one useful purpose; he's a bellwether for loony decisions, so you just have to do the opposite. :-)

Jun 27, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I don't suppose the Buff will have read this, or indeed even understand it. " Energy giants want billions for back-up to windfarms". We hugely subsidise wind farms, we hugely sudsidise building grid lines to connect wind farms, and we need to hugely subsidise gas power stations ticking over and burning fuel waiting for the wind to die. Those foreign-owned energy giants can't wait to get their hands on money for old rope (aka subsidies, no risk involved). Of course, we all know this, but Buff and his green advisers don't want to know. Cartoon for Josh of Buff with his hands over his ears.

By Tom Mcghie at

Jun 27, 2011 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Great idea for a cartoon, PB. perhaps he could have a letter from Essex Police in front of him as well.

Jun 27, 2011 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

With a soundtrack:

Oh Vicky, you're so fine, you're so fine, you pay my fine, Vicky...

h/t to Guido

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

That British Gas pie chart shows 12 % for 'Government obligation to help the environment'.

That's a hell of a tax !!!

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin

I see that Greg Barker gets one look-in from the people "Campaign to Protect Rural England" to "To discuss Renewable Energy & Fuel Poverty issues" and then the rest is over to the banks and all the other vested interests to create the problems brought up in the first meeting.

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

And was only 1% in 2006:
pie chart courtesy Ofgem.

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin

My guess is that the quarterly gas and electricity bill will be replaced with bills arriving every two months, well it looks so much cheaper.

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartym


"That's a hell of a tax !!!"

I thought so, too. Same as 'operating costs' already, and how much power do we get from renewables right now, 1 or 2 %?

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Greg Barker is full of BS (Big Society). This link says a lot about the man

Greg Barker: Green Deal and Big Society Event

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

@ andyscrase

I am a member of CPRE. The central office, based in London, is full of the usual greens and climate change activists. However, out in the sticks, where the real work is done by CPRE at County level, it is a different matter. We are concerned about fuel poverty, particularly as the rural poor are the worst sufferers. However most of us oppose the climate change nonsense and most of us campaign vigorously against wind farms. At the meeting with Greg Barker, CPRE will have told him to build renewable energy where it does not harm the countryside (like offshore) and simultaneously do something to alleviate fuel poverty. CPRE central office follows government policy, to maintain its influence (what influence, you ask?)

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Re: Martin and James P

Don't forget it is actually worse than you think.
(12/88)*100 ~= 14%
So the 'Government obligation to help the environment' has increased your electricity bill by 14%

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Are there other taxes in addition to the wind-tax? VAT?

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

I reckon you right , its always amazed me Garages don't break the bill down to show how much of the fuel cost goes straight toward tax as its quite easy to do, I guess that is becasue they are leaned on to ensure they don't .
After all how would you feel if you paid 30 pounds for petrol but your bill told you over 25 pound of that was tax , not happy at a guess, expend that nation wide and you can see why the government would not be keen these types of bills.

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Slightly OT- there's a discussion coming up on You & Yours (R4) about the (mis-)selling of solar panels...

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

j ferguson: Exemption from the climate change levy (CCL).

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"worse than you think"

Plus ça change.. :-)

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Don't forget that the British Gas pie chart has another three 'slices', (Wholesale Electricity / Delivery to your home / Operating costs), each of which - and almost certainly the first - is likely to include greenie subsidies and taxes in their own right.

It is possible that BG has already sifted this out in their figures. But I doubt it.

At least some of the Airlines are making this sort of thing quite explicit in their bills, showing that eco and other taxes are adding around 80% to many of your flight tickets. But they have more of a motive to do this, especially when confronted with the continued campaign to charge duty on aviation fuel. But most of the energy companies have at least one foot in the cAGW camp, hence the fact that the BigOil shills are almost exclusively on the alarmist side of the debate.

And doing without energy isn't a realistic option for most people (whereas they can decide to stay in the UK for their holidays, for example). So energy companies know that they can sell their products in any event. I'm sure the CEOs of Esso or BP don't lie in bed worrying about electric cars any more than the CEO of British Gas worries about windmills. Indeed, it is the case that whenever the wind drops the Gas industry cleans up as they get better prices for supplying when there is an unforecast gap between supply and demand.

Actually, there are schemes afoot for installations of banks of large diesel generators (ex MOD from Iraq?) which can be fired up when the supply is 'on the brink'. The feed in tariffs for electricity that can be despatched within 5 minutes notice are eye watering. The generators can be configured so that they can be fired up with a signal from somebody's Blackberry whilst the controller sits at home or in the pub. They reckon that they will be in profit if they sell into the grid for just 100 hours in a period of 12 months.

Nice to know some of the stuff you are paying for!

Jun 27, 2011 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:19 AM | j ferguson

We pay VAT on the unit price, so if the levy is included in the unit price we are being taxed on it(equivalent to paying VAT on fuel excise duty - a tax on a tax).

Jun 27, 2011 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Huhne will not in my experience respond to any communication nor generally will Marland.

The only thing you can do is write to your own MP to complain about the lack of response and DECC's preposterous energy policies. Huhne has more of an obligation to respond if it is forwarded by another MP and if enough of us do it at least some our own MPs may come to realise what their own electorate thinks.

Nearly all the Tory MEP's voted against the latest EU carbon reduction proposals so at times you may be pushing against a half open door.

Jun 27, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid W

There was an MP called Chris Huhne
A green and unpleasant buffoon
He drove at high speed
Ruined England with greed
In a bird chopping energy swoon

Go on then... have a go.

Jun 27, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

There was a PM called Dave
Who wanted the planet to save
But he placed his reliance
On East Anglian science
And invested in wind and wave.

Jun 27, 2011 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterErik Bloodaxe

A young watermelon named Huhne
to logic and sense was immune
So to cabinet he went
Taxpayers money was spent
while whistling a socialist tune

Jun 27, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko


No doubt Kim will be along in a minute with a haiku.

Jun 27, 2011 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

TerryS said:

Re: Martin and James P

Don't forget it is actually worse than you think.
(12/88)*100 ~= 14%
So the 'Government obligation to help the environment' has increased your electricity bill by 14%M

A thought - might eco wibble taxes be a sneaky way for HM Government to harmonise energy taxes with rest of Europe without simply putting VAT at the full rate?

Jun 27, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Milliband was followed by Huhne
An idiot and then a buffoon
Their knowledge of power
Couldn't get any lower
And now we're up s**t creek without a paddle

PS Apologies, I never was much good at poetry

Jun 27, 2011 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

There once was a Liberal Don Juan,
Both lacking in brain and in charm,
One day called his wife,
Cruelly stuck in the knife,
"Kill the story and please remain calm"

Jun 27, 2011 at 5:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

One day called "up" his wife - grrrrr now it doesn't scan! :-)

Jun 27, 2011 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuck

This is more of an aspiration, really, but it's hope that keeps us alive, isn't it?

An eejit by the name of Huhne
Wanted to tax the sun and moon
He went too fast
For it to last
Now he’s forgotten (but not goon)

Jun 27, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Now there's a thought.

."..might eco wibble taxes be a sneaky way for HM Government to harmonise energy taxes with rest of Europe without simply putting VAT at the full rate?"

Eco-taxes in Germany on Electricity consisting of a number of elements totals 13:6%!

Spooky coincidence. I doubt it.

Jun 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRGH

There was a 'green' mp named Huhne
Who wanted renewables to zoom
He taxed all our asses
With no effect on our gases
And caused climate sceptics to boom

nb 'green' has more than one meaning.

Jun 27, 2011 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


I blogged on ScottishPower's environmental charge last week - there's a bit of a rebellion building here in the north:

SP split out the charges for different fuels here:

Jun 27, 2011 at 6:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterdak

I notice Zac Goldsmith MP is proposing to make it mandatory that every Commercial Premises over 1,000 m2 must pay for & have a Display Energy Certificate.

What a load of useless red-tape from the party that promised to reduce red-tape; and, an uneccesary financial burden on tens of thousands of small businesses.

It'll waste millions of GWh setting up the system & implementing it, and save very little.

The only ones benefitting from the scheme will be 'consultants' selling their soon-to-be-mandatory services.

Jun 27, 2011 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Write to your MP for free using

it's kosher: I have used it and you get a reply on House of Commons stationery.

Jun 27, 2011 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

@Jack Hughes

You get a reply only if your MP can be bothered to answer you, or say more than "your comment has been noted".

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

The 2nd Law of HerbalDuckMannics
Creates graphs routinely like Hockey Sticks
It's a political sham
An economic scam
With Science as robust as Weetabix

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Golf... spot on!

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I notice that DECC's website has now become totally infested with obsessive climate hysteria, contrasting rather sharply with the latest Royal Society's site, on the surface of which, at least, the greater part seems to have been toned down. Nevertheless, among the list of newly elected FRS fellows, a certain Professor Robert Watson, reminding me of this gem of a 'must watch' interview

Jun 27, 2011 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

'What planet is Huhne on?' some might say
'Where science works in such a different way?
Where they'll be no more snow
and a steady wind will blow
every single hour of the day?'

Huhne's surely can't be worried by Pryce?
He's an MP millionaire (very nice!)
so the cost of food and fuel
that to some might be cruel
he'll put on his expenses (maybe twice?).

Jun 27, 2011 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerekP

Mr Huhne is a farsighted fellow:-
By Richard Layard, Willem Buiter, Christopher Huhne, Will Hutton, Peter Kenen and Adair Turner
With a foreword by Paul Volcker

Responsibility for the views expressed in this pamphlet rests solely with the authors. Someof the group would be happy to speak and write further on the subject, and can be contactedvia Nick Canning on 020 7881 8944 or e-mail

The burden of genius must be hard to bare ;)

Jun 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

There is a politician named Huhne
Who inhabits his own private bubble
And speaks to an echoing room
His policies are untroubled
By science or logic, the loon,
And the cost of our 'leccie will double.

Jun 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

When this or any future government can demonstrate that:

- renewables reduce emissions

- UK emissions reductions will measurably reduce future climate change

Then it will be justified in raising the cost of energy. Not until.

Jun 28, 2011 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Doing with out energy is not an option for most.

However, if everyone decided to deduct 14% from their bill and to pay just 86% of the bill advising the energy companies that they are not interested in low carbon based energy and are not prepared to subsidise the costs associated with low carbon energy production, the energy companies could do little to collect the shortfall (due to force of numbers involved) and would instead stand up to the government. This might encourage some sanity because this folly will lead to countless deaths (especially amonst the old) due to fuel poverty and the sooner the route down this road is reversed the better.

Jun 28, 2011 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

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