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Consumers' electricity bills

Here's an odd thing. Some weeks back I noticed that Gregory Barker, the Climate Change minister, had met with representatives of the Electricity Retailers Association to discuss "information on consumers' bills".

To me this seemed rather odd - why would electricity retailers need to discuss the information on bills with ministers? Perhaps Mr Barker wanted to insist that some information was passed on to consumers?

An FOI request later, I discover that the meeting was at the request of ERA itself - it appears that they asked to speak to ministers about a number of issues - Fuel Poverty, the Green Deal, the Community Energy Saving Programme and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target. Putting this together with DECC's record that "information on consumers' bills" was discussed, I conclude that ERA wanted to make the costs of these government programmes transparent.

Unfortunately, I can only infer this because according to DECC, no record was kept of the meeting.

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Reader Comments (28)

The standard level of climate openness. Every note made at the meeting was provided for you.

Aug 16, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Just like the idea of putting the tax take on petrol bills , the government is deeply opposed to itemized bill when the 'wrong ' short of information is to be show . I guess their doing some leaning on these companies to ensure it does not happen as people will ask to many question once they see how much in reality 'green ideas , cost.

Aug 16, 2011 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Perhaps you should ask Dave Newton DECC how many civil servants attended the meeting and did they comply with the civil service code when meeting lobbyists?

Aug 16, 2011 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Even leaving aside the issue of WHAT the energy companies wanted to print, how did we arrive at a state where they need to ask the government's permission to print stuff on their bills?

Aug 16, 2011 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

It's interesting to note that ScottishPower's explanation of what makes up a bill, which was at: this link is now gone, apparently within the past two days.

Happily, Google has a cached copy at: this link which came from 13th August.

We carried this story a few weeks ago and continue to try get more details, and refunds, from SP here.

We'll be following this up in a day or so.

Aug 16, 2011 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterdak

The best way to end the madness of spiralling fuel bills is to repeal the UK Climate Change Act - the mandate for suicidal reductions in CO2 emissions. I have started an e-petition to this end:

If you agree, please sign. 100,000 signatures are needed to get a proper debate in Parliament.

Aug 16, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff


works fine - there were some noise characters on the link you provided.

Aug 16, 2011 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Roger, the "closing date" appears to be today. Is that correct?

Aug 16, 2011 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

Adam - no, the closing date is 1 year from today in 2012.

Only 999,995 signatures to go...............

Aug 16, 2011 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Perhaps DECC wants to stop them putting this information on the fuel bills.

Aug 16, 2011 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The defunct dak supplied link shows; "VAT & Government obligations - 9%"

The current steveta_uk link shows; "VAT & government obligations - 12%"

Will the trend be linear or exponential one wonders.

Aug 16, 2011 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

No record was kept of the meeting?

It never effin (pardon your grace) stops.

This is either an outright lie, or, perhaps worse than that, a deliberate decision was taken to have no minutes to avoid the public being able to find out what was being discussed.

Their contempt for us is total.

Perhaps someone could write and ask the Climate Change Minister what was being discussed notwithstanding "no notes were kept." Doubtless the reply will be that he cannot recall anything of what was being discussed.


Why do we put up with it?

Aug 16, 2011 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

I'm sure that Greg Barker, being part of an open government, will be pressing hard for the energy companies to disclose the government's contribution to the increases in our energy bills.

Keep a look out, I'm certain that this information will be appearing on our bills very soon.

Yeah, right!

Aug 16, 2011 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

Oops! Sorry, a slight attack of the twitches there, I think.

steveta_uk is correct, the original link does still work.

But simpleseekeraftertruth has also noticed a strange feature - the charges are different for gas, electricity or dual-fuel customers. Electricity-only customers pay most, gas-only the least. So by this logic, burning fossil fuel gas in a domestic situation must generate less "harmful" emissions than consuming nuclear-generated electricity.

Aug 16, 2011 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterdak

Could it have anything to do with the 'optional' factor to pay? i.e. the Government 'obligation' part isn't (I've read somewhere) mandatory and that you can refuse to pay - legitimately. Perhaps the discussions were to do with passing this 'requirement' into law........

Aug 16, 2011 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

BBC news at 10 may have had an epiphany - questioning the cost & efficacy of wind turbine electricity. Should be on i-player later - 25 mins in.

Aug 16, 2011 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

SSAT - it was also was on BBC Today programme this morning at about 7.20 .
Is the tide turnng? Or the wind starting to blow in a different direction?

We keep being fed this story about fuel bills rising because of conniving between the supplier companies. Gradually the real reason is becoming clearer.

Aug 16, 2011 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

DECCA, unlike DECC, made their money from making records. DECC keep the funds flowing by hiding the facts from those whom they pledged to serve.
Seeing that the ERA asked for the meeting in the first place it seems highly plausible that it was held in-camera at the insistence of HMG.
Can't remember the sentence received by the 'rioter' who 'stole' a bottle of water but my mind boggles at the appropriate penalty for scr*wing an entire nation!
Tough on Crime. Yup, gotta agree 100%.
Cold weather victims, the eaters or heaters, will look forward to that happening!

Aug 16, 2011 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate, with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

If the Bishop is right, then the ERA asked for the meeting because they wanted to expose the absurd taxes they are forced to collect for the government. They want the publicity. So the only reasons they would not respond to a request from the Bishop for an account of what went on at the meeting is if they were sworn to secrecy or if they do not want to upset the government too much in case they need government goodwill in the future. So, if it were the case, would they tell the Bishop they were sworn to secrecy? Would not that be a handy thing to know? And if not, perhaps they might think that they should tell what happened because that would partly satisfy their need to come clean with the public that prompted them to see the Minister in the first place.

Aug 17, 2011 at 4:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

I wonder if little Gregory Barker will have encouraged the Electricity Retailers to include this information with customers' bills?

Aug 17, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

If I were feeling whimsical, I'd start an epetition for a law that REQUIRED petrol/gas/electricity companies to itemise bills.

The main reason I'm not is that I don't know the policy area well enough to write it intelligently. Anyone fancy it?

Aug 17, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDead Dog Bounce

"Aunty" questioning the use of offshore birdmincers!
"It takes 200 of these to replace one power station and that's only when the wind blows"
My word, it'll have the Guardianistas up in arms!

Aug 17, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

The email exchange includes the statement 'An agenda had been agreed for the 16th to focus on the Green Deal (finance), but to also include: Social Price Support and Fuel Poverty; Future Energy Company Obligation; and, Energy Billing – consumer information.'

The coyness from DECC, and the fact that consumer information on bills needed to be a full agenda item, seems to lead logically to the strong suspicion of deliberate political pressure to suppress transparency of such information on consumer bills.

Aug 17, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

No DECC record keeping? That's becoming normal as a response to that terribly inconvenient FOI Act. No minutes, nothing to FOI. Simples. I've seen the same used by supposedly Sarbanes Oxley compliant businesses who tell staff not to put anything that may be controversial in emails, use the phone instead. Business ethics have always been one of life's great oxymorons though.

Slightly suprised by the BBC's article on wind, especially this:

Professor Dieter Helm, an economist from the University of Oxford, told the BBC he doubted a large expansion in offshore wind power was affordable. He said: "Offshore wind is one of the very few things that makes nuclear power look cheap."

Is the penny finally dropping? I never quite understood how inflation targets could be met when most of our new energy supply is given automatic RPI+ kickback accelerators and rising energy costs are already contributing to rising inflation. I was also slightly suprised when Shukman opened the door to the tower in the video and the hatch didn't look like it had a lock on it.

Aug 17, 2011 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

"no record was kept of the meeting"

By either side? If ERA called it, then presumably they took along someone/thing to record it...

Aug 17, 2011 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"To be clear, having searched our records and contacted those who attended this meeting we established that no record was kept".

All those who attended the meeting, or only those who work for DECC ?

Does not the civil service regulations require - or at least expect - that minutes of meetings with outsiders be made and kept ? Especially those involving ministers, for whom an additional code of conduct applies (although it might well not be specific about this point).

Anybody out there with a few hours to spare ?

Aug 18, 2011 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterCassio

Conspiracy Theory/on

Meetings with no minutes? Did Scottish Power attend with an Iberdrola stooge on hand?

My bill dated June 2011 from Iberdrola informed me (in a side panel) that my bill of Euro122.73, was made up as follows:

cost of generation and distribution = 67.68
tax (VAT) = 18.72
tax (electricity) = 5.03
charges not related to juice = 31.30

So, but for carbon footprint nonsense, my bill should have been 67.68 + 18.72 = 86.40, but I had to pay 5.03 + 31.30 = 36.33 extra to keep the Spanish equivalent of Huhne in a job.

To me, this 36.33 represents 12 x 50cl bottles of "El Coto" crianza, which is a delicious red and at 50cl is just right to split between me and wife of an evening. I am not happy that I have that cash removed from my wallet by government rather than the local supermercado.

Pepe is much better value.

However, my bill dated July 2011 does not have that useful information, the panel showing exactly how much the "fighting global warming" scam costs us on a monthly basis has been murdered.

I wonder if the sparse pie chart information that used to be shown on Scottish Power bills has also been put to death?

Conspiracy Theory/off

Two glasses of your best red plonk, innkeeper!

Aug 19, 2011 at 5:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

Sorry, "has also been"

should be "will also soon be"

Aug 19, 2011 at 5:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

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