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« Stitching up the gas market | Main | Beeb responds »

Stitching up the electricity market

This from the agenda for today in the House of Commons:

9 Energy and Climate Change

10.00 am Room 19 (private)  10.15 am (public)

Subject: Electricity Market Reform.

Witnesses: Riverstone, Citigroup Global Markets, Virgin Green Fund, and Climate Change Capital; RSPB, Greenpeace, WWF, and Friends of the Earth (at 11.15 am).

Nobody to put the case for the consumer then. Anyone could end up with the impression that Chris Huhne is trying to organise a stitch up of the electricity market to benefit his green friends.



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Reader Comments (28)

So what happens in private between 10 and 10:15? Agree what's to be said in public, presumably.

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Oh wonderful!
Let's hear all the NGOs with vested interests!
But let's definitely not hear those who have to pay for the 'recommendations', especially since they are the same who pay for Mr Hoo-Stick to represent their interests ...

Sometimes ........ I wish for the second coming of the original Guy Fawkes.

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

James P

Compare brown envelopes?

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

I don't see the problem, it's not like we didn't all vote for energy policy to be determined by Greenpiss, Fiends of less worth, and a bunch of American wrestlers.

Feb 9, 2011 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMackemX

Electricity Market Reform.
Right - so can someone explain to me what the hell the RSPB, WWF, and Friends of The Earth have got to do with the electricity market..?
Shouldn't there be someone there from (as Bish rightly points out) consumers - including major industries such as aluminium..?
Obviously the other witnesses have dark green credentials - no change there, then.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Between 10:00 & 10:15 they have to approve the minutes of the last meeting of The Mutual Admiration Society.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Bugger Guy Fawkes, the guillotine would be more effective.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Anyone could end up with the impression that Chris Huhne is trying to organise a stitch up of the electricity market to benefit his green friends.

Indeed they could but this sort of political shenanigans under the cover of the green agenda has been going on for yonks. The past master at it all was perhaps former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson (2001-03). (Oddly, the Blair-Brown years saw the appointment of enough energy ministers to form a football team with a spare or two for a subs bench.)

In April 2004, The Daily Telegraph noted that:

“A private equity house backed by Paul Myners, the Guardian Media Group chairman, and Sir David Frost, the broadcaster, is about to turn wind into money. Englefield Capital is set to sell its stake in Zephyr Investments, Britain’s biggest wind energy provider, for more than three times what it paid for the business just three years ago.”

As you know, Paul Myners went on to a seat in the House of Lords and a post as City Minister in Gordon Brown’s “cabinet of all the talents”. It would of course be disgraceful to suggest that The Guardian was ever, in any shape or form, influenced by its chairman and his ability to trouser dosh like there was no tomorrow from the AGW agenda.

An 2008 essay notes that:

“Speaking to the BBC in May 2007, prominent Greenpeace anti-nuclear activist Jean McSorley noted that ‘Labour has often castigated the old boy network, the public school tie and so on but they have a similar network. It depends who you know in the unions or ex-Labour ministers’ ”.

The irony of her comment of course is that, while what she says is true, Greenpeace was, is and plans to stay up there with the bestest, the richest and the sleekest. The essay added that:

“Political colleague Brian Wilson, who consented the North Hoyle project, quit as energy minister in 2003. Appointed Tony Blair’s middle east representative, he won a $300 million Iraq reconstruction contract from Washington for AMEC, co-developer with British Energy of the largest part of the Lewis project, instigated when he was energy minister. His interests now include non-exec posts with AMEC’s nuclear division, Airtricity (just bought by Scottish & Southern, for whom he arranged lucrative hydro-power subsidies) and the Parkmead Group, a merchant bank ‘focused in providing advisory services to and investing in the oil, gas and energy sectors’ ”.

And so on and so forth - but you get the idea.


Feb 9, 2011 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

This is dumber than appointing vegans as menu advisers for a steakhouse

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

This makes me so depressed. As long as this nonsense continues, Britain will remain on a fast track to self destruction. I live in a European country that is regarded as a Socialist utopia - but the UK puts it well and truly in the shade when it comes to left wing eco-shenanigans. I never believed that Britain could have a revolution but I think that, once the power supply starts failing and people can't even afford to run a car or their central heating, armed insurrection will become a very real possibility.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBuffy Minton

Which underpants? The bamboo ones of course.

"Piado, based in Atlanta, GA, uses sustainable bamboo for their men’s 'Colors of Life' underwear line. As stated on the company’s web site, they prefer bamboo because it 'helps reduce the carbon dioxide gases that contribute to global warming and does not require the use of pesticides for its growth'.”

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought


For forty years, environmental activists have been indifferent to the fate of a widespread endangered species, on a path to extinction evidenced by its declining birth rate. A species beset by enemies who treat it as plague that must be destroyed before it destroys the planet. Homo sapiens is the name of the endangered species.
The enemies of mankind have three principles they accept with an act of faith:
· · We are running out of space. The world population is already excessive for a limited planet, and grows at exponential rates, with effects that will be disastrous.
· · We are running out of resources. Non-renewable resources of the planet are being depleted by ever increasing consumption, at a rate that renders further expansion of a global economy unsustainable.
· · We are running out of time, as tipping points are reached making climate processes irreversible. The carbon dioxide emitted by human activity brings about global warming that will soon cause catastrophic climate change making the planet uninhabitable.
But acts of faith have no place in dealing with measurable physical issues. When such issues are quantified, the contrast between true and false stands clear.
Is overpopulation a serious problem? So it may seem to the city dweller of a congested metropolis living under local discomfort, but it is not something that can be generalized for the planet. The sum of U.S. urban areas amounts to 2% of the area of the country, and to 6% in densely populated countries like England or Holland. And there is plenty of green in urban areas. If the comparison is restricted to the ground covered by buildings and pavements, the area around the world amounts to 0.04% of Earth's land area. It was estimated that 6 billion people could live comfortably on 100 000 square miles, the area of Wyoming, or 0.2% of total land. With about 99.8% of free space, the idea that the planet is overpopulated is an exaggeration. Demographic forecasts are uncertain, but the most accepted ones of the UN foresee stability of the global population to be reached in the 21st century. According to some, the world population will start to decrease at the end of this century; aging population is what emerges as the issue of concern. With so much available space it is untenable that the world population is excessive or has the possibility of becoming so. Such facts are denied only by flat-earthers or by those ignorant of geometry.
It is argued that, ultimately, a limited planet will not allow unlimited growth. It can also be counter-argued that, ultimately, non-renewable natural resources do not exist on a planet governed by the Law of Conservation of Mass, which in popular form, states that "nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes." It is a fact denied only by believers in the doctrine of phlogiston, dropped when Lavoisier stated the law of conservation.
Human consumption never subtracted one gram from the mass of the planet and, in theory, all material used can be recycled. The feasibility of doing so depends on the availability of low cost energy. When fusion energy becomes operational it will be available in virtually unlimited quantities. The source is deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen found in water in a proportion of 0.03%. A cubic kilometer of seawater contains more energy than would be obtained from combustion of all known oil reserves in the world. Since the oceans contain 3 billion cubic kilometers of water is safe to assume that energy will last longer than the human species. Potable water need not be a limitation, as is sometimes said; innovative nanotube membranes hold the promise of reducing energy costs of desalination to a tenth of current costs, which would make feasible the use of desalinated water for irrigation along the coast continents (750,000 km).
There is no growing shortage of resources signaled by rising prices. Since the mid-19th century, The Economist periodical, has kept consistent records of prices of commodities; in real terms, they fell over a century and a half, due to technological advances. The decline was benign. The cost of feeding a human being was eight times higher in 1850 than it is today. Even in 1950, less than half of the world population of 2 billion had a proper diet of more than 2000 calories per day; today, 80% and have it and the world's population is three times larger.
No historical precedent backs the notion that human ingenuity is exhausted and that technology will henceforth remain stagnant at current levels. Two centuries ago, this idea led to the pessimistic Malthus prediction about the exhaustion of resources to feed a population that then seemed to grow at exponential rates.
A scientific consensus is alleged on climate change issues, but such a notion is inexact. What is fair to say is that there is a political consensus among European governments on such issues, persuaded by a faction of climate researchers who believe that there is worrisome global warming, induced by carbon dioxide generated by human activity.
Climate studies rely on a hundred fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, botany, zoology, paleontology, etc… However, there is no climate science with forecasting power comparable to that of astronomy and such power may not ever come into existence. Climate has a chaotic behavior, in the mathematical sense, and is thus subject to a high degree of uncertainty, which will not be diminished by advances in scientific knowledge.
Given the uncertainties of honest science, opinions became polarized between two political camps, each with its own agenda. One camp appeals to the authority of climate research professionals in support of an anti-industrial policy, admitted as painful but necessary, the other camp claims lack of scientific basis for such a policy, which it qualifies as suicidal. At each pole there are interests that turn the alleged global warming into a political and a journalistic phenomenon, with no resemblance to a scientific one.
Suspect from the start is the haste with which restrictive measures are promoted to curtail fuel use on the grounds that we are reaching tipping points of irreversible climate change. There are political circles that use this unverifiable hypothesis as a pretext for taxation to inhibit economic expansion. They put in the dock an Industrial Revolution, which has over the last two centuries redeemed much of humanity from extreme want. However, one quarter of humanity still has no access to electricity and suffers from all the evils arising from it. It is fair to apply to the matter a maxim of Roman law, In dubio pro reu, which states that where there is doubt, justice should benefit the accused. It also expresses the rigor of the true scientist, skeptical of unproven links of cause and effect.
Two reasons stand against the hypothesis of a correlation between increased carbon dioxide and global warming. One reason is the constancy or decline in temperature since 1995, after the temperature rise for the two previous decades that triggered the alarm of environmental activists. It now becomes clear that there are natural forces shaping the climate of magnitude greater than the effect of carbon dioxide. These include cyclical swings in ocean temperatures, sunspot activity and the effect on cosmic rays of the sun's magnetic activity. While these natural cycles are known, mankind can do nothing for or against forces of this magnitude. Common sense public measures are welcome to mitigate effects of climate change, if and when they occur and whatever the cause.
A second reason is the discredit of climate studies released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), after the revelation of misconduct in what became known as Climategate; it led to questioning the credibility of studies assembled by so called professionals. They can err. There is no place for Magister dixit, the master says so, a Byzantine reference to the authority of the word of Aristotle as final. This argument begs retort with the Royal Society's motto, Nullius in verba, according to which science does not recognize the word of authority, above proof backed by verifiable experimental evidence and logical deductive reasoning.
Lacking support in solid theory and empirical evidence, the mathematical models underpinning the UN IPCC predictions are nothing more than speculative thought, reflecting the assumptions fed into models to support the interests of sponsors. These computer simulations provide no rationale for public policies that inhibit economic activity "to save the planet." And carbon dioxide is not toxic or a pollutant. It is a plant nutrient in the photosynthesis that sustains the food chain of all living beings on the planet.
Stories of disaster are reported in strident tones, typical of the propaganda of totalitarian regimes that once incited masses duped by demagogues. Anything that happens on earth is attributed to global warming: an earthquake in the Himalayas; the volcanic eruption in Iceland; the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean; tribal wars in Africa; heat wave in Paris; plague of snails on the tiny Isle of Wight; in Australia, wildfires, dust storms in the dry season and floods in rainy season; recent severe winters in North America, the collapse of a bridge in Minnesota, the hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico, in cycles known for five centuries. Evo Morales blames the U.S. for summer floods in Bolivia. Such reckless allegations of cause and effect are well explained by Chris Patten: “Green politics at its worst amounts to a sort of Zen fascism; less extreme, it denounces growth and seeks to stop the world so that we can all get off”. In the view of Professor Aaron Wildavsky global warming is the mother of all environmental scares. “Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realizing the environmentalist's dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favor of a smaller population's eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.”
It is the hippie dream of a life of idleness, penury, long hair, unshaven face, blue jeans, sandals and a vegetarian diet; a personal choice to be foisted upon the world by dictatorial decree of an eco-fascist regime with worldwide power and justified by fantasies about the planet.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered Commenteralan neil ditchfield

RSPB, WWF and Greenpeace have formed an unholy trinity in Scotland and now advise the SNP government on all matters of energy and environmental policy. There is no counter representation. I cannot for the life of me see what RSPB have to do with anything other than looking out for wee tweety birdies.

Feb 9, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilson Flood

to Wilson Flood - and yet RSPB don't seem concerned about the bird shredders

Feb 9, 2011 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaroline K

Dreadnaught, If my memory serves me rightly, those buying the bamboo pants might be shocked to find that they are wearing what amounts to rayon, a chemically regenerated cellulose made in a process similar to that used for making (inter alia) the skins for skinless sausages and artificial sponges. The usual raw material is wood pulp, a similarly tough fibre. The bamboo may well be easy and plentiful to grow, but its such a tough fibre compared with cotton that the viscose process is commonly used to prepare it. Ground up, it's then dissolved in Carbon Disulphide (not nice!) to form a xanthate which is then taken up in caustic soda. The cellulose fibres are then regenerated by spinning into acid baths. All in all it's hard to imagine a more industrial process, and I very much doubt that is saves any CO2 compared with other fabric processes. (I suspect many petroleum sourced fibres might well be 'friendlier')

Feb 9, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Yes, but the RSPB don't even look out for wee tweety birdies anymore - they turned a blind eye to various wind farm schemes in Perthshire and elsewhere in the Highlands, in full knowledge that these will very likely have serious consequences for hen harriers, golden eagles and other raptors. And SNH have likewise done nothing to protect these red list species from these inappropriate wind farms. And don't get me started on SEPA, which decided that a 1MW hydro scheme in the Birks of Aberfeldy is a good idea, so that when it is running, up to 70% of the flow of the burn will be diverted into a pipe, rather then flow over the Falls of Moness and down the gorge made famous by Robert Burns.

Feb 9, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

That's Dreadnought of course!

Feb 9, 2011 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

Does anyone know...

Is a meeting like this held in one of the committee rooms at the HoC? And can members of the public come along to the "public" part of the meeting? And do the members of the public have an opportunity to ask questions of the worthies?

Feb 9, 2011 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

The Westminster Parliamentary Model was upheld to us schoolboys in the colonies back in the 1950s as the very model of democratic purity; what a load of cobblers! I can hear a line about this from a comic opera, but I can't be bothered repeating it as my sense of humour seems lacking right now.
Thank God I am going home to NZ soon, and I'll be going a sadder but much wiser old codger - our polticians in the Antipodes might be similarly toxic to the Brit variety, but at least it's warmer there and I will be able to stay warm at night under a good raupo blanket.

Feb 9, 2011 at 3:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

"Riverstone is a catalyst, playing an active and opportunistic role in the ongoing restructuring of the energy and power industry."

Well, at least they admit it!

Feb 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Does anyone know what the purpose of the witnesses is?
Presumably they have no input?

" ......The composition of the committee is roughly proportional to that of the House itself, so it is rare that amendments are accepted that are contrary to a majority Government's wishes. As the overall purpose of a Bill has been set by its Second Reading in the House, amendments at the committee stage may not make drastic changes"

Feb 9, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterschober

And no doubt one of the topics will be the use of "smart meters" which will enable the gov to switch off your electricity if they think youi are using too much.

Feb 9, 2011 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDizzy Ringo

I have already written to my own MP twice to complain about Huhne and would recommend that everyone does the same. Most of them want their gravy train to continue and therefore to get re-elected.
There is no point in writing to DECC. They are so much in the thrall of WWF et al that they will not even bother to reply.

Feb 9, 2011 at 5:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave W

I really should not read these blogs, their excellent content can make me so angry.
As other posters have observed what the hell are those NGOs, well known for their lies and dissimulation doing at this energy meeting - could I as a member of the public have attended and asked questions, and not just as a public observer?
I have no confidence in our government process, no confidence in the BBC. I Want out of the expensive, undemocratic and corrupt bureaucracy that is the EEC.
I fear it will all end in tears as the money, or credit, runs out.

Feb 9, 2011 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersceptical me

Dreadnought, Cumbrian Lad:

I bought a pile of 100% bamboo towels (not for eco reasons) and have been well pleased with them. The cotton towels have migrated to the back of the airing cupboard and will probably never be used again.

Feb 9, 2011 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJane Coles

I note that the Daily Mail has a go at an Ecotricity site in Reading today as an example of how there is money to be made from underperforming (understatement) assets in the Electricity generation business.

Meanwhile in the Telegraph, Louise in the vanguard (H/t EUReferendum), explains how local communities might be bribed to vote for potential disruption to their existences and higher lectricity bills to pay for the bribes. Obviously she doesn't quite put it like that. The comments I have read so far are interesting and largely consistent.

Gray does point out that the commottment to renewable levels by 2020 is a legal requirement. Seems to me that the only affordable way forward is to change the law.

Someone in the comments points ut that at least wind farms are relatively easy to remove. Well, above ground that is fairly true but takes no account of land and habitat changes set in place by access roads, maybe drainage at some sites and, more significantly in my opinion, the huge deeply embedded concrete bases that will almost certainly be left in place when a site is abandoned or redeveloped to new design requirements 20 year down the road (assuming the scheme prevails). So far as I am aware no organisation has any responsibility for cleaning up sites when they become defunct - does anyone know otherwise?

Feb 10, 2011 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGP

Re wind farms.
Current availability (13.42 on 10th Feb) - 2275MW
Actual output - 140MW - or 0.3% of total demand.
All figures as per the NETA tables, updated every ten minutes.
Yet STILL the DECC blunders on - funding these things with OUR money..!

Feb 10, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Leading on from my previous posting - I note from the DECC website (I enjoy a good dose of fiction) that a new offshore wind farm has been approved in the Humber estuary.
The press release announces with pride that it will power 'UP TO (that's an interesting phrase) 150000 homes'.
According to my calculations, using the NETA figures, the reality is that all that investment with OUR money, will power about 9000 homes..
A small diesel generator could manage that...

Feb 10, 2011 at 5:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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