Thursday, 16 December 2010


I feel like I have been robbed today - by 'green' capitalists.

I got this e-mail from Ecotricity, from whom I buy my energy. I pay extra to receive 100% renewable energy, which I think is important. Ecotricity generates a larger amount of renewable energy each year, and supports this with power from the non-renewable grid. Paying extra means that a proportion of the renewable energy is assigned to me.

As you may have seen in the press, npower are increasing their prices in January.
Our policy, and our promise, is to match the standard price of your regional supplier and so we need to raise our own prices.
But this is not just a matter of policy and we won’t be adding to our profits from this. Wholesale electricity prices have been rising for some time and this move by npower is in response to that. We also need to raise our prices to match these increased costs.  
We’ve set out our new price below, alongside the old one for easy reference.
Just to be clear, our price is exactly matched to npower in your region.
We price match them in order to offer a fair price to our customers, knowing that we will for sure make a smaller margin than them (they have economies of scale) and at the same time dedicating the money that we do make to a green outcome – in this case the building of new sources of green energy in the UK.
We think price matched electricity with a real green outcome is something worth having. We hope you feel the same way of course.

That doesn't mean, however, that they aren't thieving capitalist bastards. Their letter is disingenuous and misleading at best. I certainly wasn't aware that they'd 'promised' to match another company's price. As far as I can see, power costs are going up all the time, so this 'promise' is simply a promise to always increase prices - despite the claim that deregulated, privatised utilities lead to competition and reduced prices. In this case, Ecotricity is deliberately removing the competitive element.

Even more nonsensically, my electricity can't be costing more: it's generated from renewable sources, so unless the wind and waves have started billing Ecotricity, the cost hasn't changed. In fact, it should be going down as more - and more efficient - capacity goes online. So the claim that the profit margin isn't increasing must be a lie. My electricity isn't bought on the wholesale market: that's the whole point of the '100% renewable' claim.

That's why I'm looking for a new supplier.

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