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« The vacuity of Naomi Oreskes | Main | Sierra Club silliness »
Wednesday
Dec162015

The best laid plans of Westminster mice

  Do you remember the grid emergency the other day, when the grid was said to have accepted an offer of £2500 per MWh to supply power to the grid, a slight markup on the normal price of £40?  The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee reckon there may have been some dodgy dealing going on and they have written to Ofgem asking for an investigation:

 

 The best laid plans o' Westminster mice gang aft into a rent-seeker's paradise. Perhaps it might have been a good idea to maintain higher safety margins on the grid?

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Reader Comments (101)

Another thought:

It might be interesting to enquire about the career histories of the electricity traders working for Macquarie. The old hands might even have worked for Enron once.

Dec 16, 2015 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

"What's the time, Dork of Cork."

"Well, its wibble saugage three throung nine noony no. Have you not seen this people have many views thirty dribble boing. See you look here well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8CIDdKvUkg "

"Uk, OK,,er, thanks."

Dec 16, 2015 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterC

It doesn't add up...

"I wonder whether in the Brave New World of smart meters we couldn't ensure that consumers contract directly with generators, cutting out the middle man."

Yes. I have suggested this for several years now.
There is no better way to experience 100% renewable energy
than to toggle your power on and off in synchrony with wind
or solar generation at plant X. Price can be adjusted in 15
minute intervals. All of the pieces are in place to implement this.

Dec 16, 2015 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

@C
I am a happy camper now.
You are not engaging with my argument which I believe to be rational.

That is at 12.00 ~ minutes of my previous posted Social credit video.

Goodmans observations of his 17th century reality was false.
He used high prices as the basis for understanding the physical world.
But to understand the physical world one must actually observe it.

In my case I am making the simple but effective observation that high prices are a result of the overproduction of in particular capital goods plus the very structure of world trade today.

Dec 16, 2015 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Bomdil seeks Goldberry.

Dec 16, 2015 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

A typical argument with right-wing nuts; you point out a well-functioning state-run system just across the channel and the wingnut brings up Hugo Chavez. Forget the crap dogma you learned at your mothers teat - something either works or it doesn't!

Dec 16, 2015 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Mike Jackson, I beg to disagree, no bacon AND no eggs might be read as deliberate policy, planning as it were, but usually in socialist utopias the clash of chaos and corruption brings forth illogical gluts and shortages of things which should be in equal balance, so 6 rashers and no eggs looks more the ticket.

Dec 16, 2015 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

If you are going to leave electricity supply to the market (and I think you should) you can't skew the market by giving some generators preferential subsidies.

Dec 16, 2015 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterclovis marcus

Mike Jackson and bill, the food police would approve of breakfast with no eggs, and no bacon. They will count towards your 5 a day of healthy eating.

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Is it a energy company when it cannot find a market for its product (electricity)

What company in their right mind would wish to engage on a level footing with this declining market ?

There was biblical drops of UK electrical production / consumption in 2014.
A further 2.5% ~drop this year would be big news in any post war recession but not now it seems.
Is this a energy company or a energy security company ?
With some money slipped under the table to preserve the illusion of a market based economy without demand. (A joke )

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

JamesG

I'm starting to wonder just how well the system is running in France these days. Or perhaps it's the impact of Germany's use of other countries to balance its grid. Recent patterns of interconnector flows have shown alarming lurches from import to export - look at the swing of 4.5GW on 23 November followed by 3GW back the other way and 2.5GW back again. It's been quite a while since the French were supplying a steady 2 GW to us - beginning of October, in fact. Bottom right chart at Gridwatch.

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Dork of Cork

The decline in UK power consumption is motivated by shutting down energy intensive industry in order to keep the lights on in people's homes - the panic response of government after ongoing failure to provide sufficient capacity. See e.g. steel industry arc furnace closures, on top of shutting down the aluminium smelting industry.

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Its so long ago that no one remembers the case of town gas.

Some enterprising capitalist would start up a plant to provide gas derived from coal.
Mainly to provide gas for lighting and cooking
Most gasworks were closed down with the advent of natural gas availability.

However in the early days the local privately owned gas work was in a monopoly position and of course acted accordingly.
Excessive prices were imposed.

Local businesses and residents demanded municipalisation of these gas plants.
It was not a party issue.
Capitalism does not work properly if there is no competition.

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBRYAN

Monopolies in private hands are bad, of course. What exactly is so special about government hands which could make a monopoly OK? Competence? Lack of conflicting priorities? DMMFL.

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

@It doesn't add up.

I think it's much deeper then that.
Not much heavy industry now
What you described essentially happened in the early 80s.
What I believe we are witnessing now is a escape of the middle class as they desperately seek to avoid British inflation.
Look at British energy trends residential sector in particular - it is shocking.
You will see continual and major falls in 2014 which mirrored the overall decline in UK consumption.

This is not home efficiency in my opinion - this is a cessation of 20 and 30 family formation amongst residents and their replacement by the global poor.

This is of course a long running policy of the British Banking elite.
Starting with the displaced Irish washing up on Liverpool docks 150 years ago.

Dec 16, 2015 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3CAHjEjcVwU

London couple escaping costs in Cambodia.

Dec 16, 2015 at 6:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

"escape of the middle class as they desperately seek to avoid British inflation." The Dork of Cork

There are many reasons why some Brits leave but inflation isn't really one of them. Property price inflation maybe. Some feel they'll get a cheaper life abroad but they usually just exchange one series of problems for another. While I despise our politicians over energy policy, I have no doubts they are doing it for what they think is the right reason.

The worst things that our governments do to us are usually not those things they do in secret, but the things they announce in the news.

Dec 16, 2015 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I am quoting from DECC
Domestic Uk energy consumption fell 14% (6.4mtoe) in 2014....
DORK -Of course they blame the warm weather and stuff.

Since 2000 domestic energy consumption has decreased by 19% while there has been a 12% increase in the number of households and 9.7% increase in population.

Energy efficient light bulbs??????
Or structural shift in society
You decide.

Meanwhile of course transport inputs have remained relatively stable.
I.E. - the cars come first.

Dec 16, 2015 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

TinyCO2, it is of note that very few people leave the UK for a cooler climate. Another of those little subtleties about human nature, so often missed by the Global Warming Alarmists.

Dec 16, 2015 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

These are not the frauds you're looking for.....:o)

Dec 16, 2015 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Would it be possible to run the energy companies as a Nationalised Industry but run by private enterprise that were allowed to take a fixed percentage of all profits?

Dec 16, 2015 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

TDOC - does it indicate WHERE the cutbacks in energy use came from? Pensioners? or maybe heavy industry closing down and relocating to countries where sensible energy policies exist?

Dec 16, 2015 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

TinyCO2:

I have no doubts they are doing it for what they think is the right reason.
But right for whom? I hope that you are not so naïve that you think that it might be right for the majority of the electorate, when the evidence to date is that idea is far, far from right.

Dec 16, 2015 at 7:42 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR "I hope that you are not so naïve that you think that it might be right for the majority of the electorate,"

I think most warmists including MPs think it's for the planet, the animals, the poor, the unborn, etc etc. They believe that we should suffer for a greater good. Evidence does suggest that they're wrong just as evangelists often are. Troughing is not inconsistent. They convince themselves that a bit of self interest is their just reward for their piety. Belief is a poor substitute for knowledge.

Dec 16, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

@Dave G
I would struggle to see a country where energy policy is sensible.
At one time I believed in Dirigisme but not now.
Current highly unstable trade make it simply impossible to plan anyhow.


The entire world supply chain has been so corrupted by usury that is difficult to start somewhere really.

Approx 50% or more of the cost of goods is a result of usury.
Again I observe Irish national accounts and half ~ of tax collected is not respent inside the Jurisdiction.
Taxes therefore subsequently add to costs.

In Ireland the Bachelor pensioner cannot afford a pint given the extreme level of taxes on anything that would make a man happy.
So residential heating inputs are probably higher in Ireland.
It's Important to understand that the UK and euroland have some sort of inverse trade and money relationship.
The UKs net real goods trade deficit has doubled with respect to mercantile Europe since 2011.
From 40 billion to 80 billion sterling.
This is neither a good or bad thing.
It just is.
What's missing in all of this is the lack of local sub national supply chains.
We can clearly see that usury drove expansion of supply chains for 500~ years.
Now the costs are coming home.

Dec 16, 2015 at 8:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

PS
I am not a Georgist land tax guy but we had a famous agri and euro economist (Ray Crotty) who advocated a social credit / nixer economy with government spending slashed by 80%.
This was the time of the first Irish euro crisis of the 80s .
Increased government spending is required in a debt based economy but not in a equity economy.

http://www.villagemagazine.ie/index.php/2012/11/the-vindication-of-ray-crotty-ireland-2012/

Dec 16, 2015 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Dave G,

You are wasting your time trying to ask the Dork to elaborate. The eejit just goes off on yet another incoherent tangent.

Dec 16, 2015 at 8:28 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

CBS news.

"During California's rolling blackouts, when streets were lit only
by head lights and families were trapped in elevators, Enron
Energy traders laughed.


One trader is heard on tapes obtained by CBS News saying,
"Just cut 'em off. They're so f----d. They should just bring
back f-----g horses and carriages, f-----g lamps, f-----g
kerosene lamps."

..

California's attempt to deregulate energy markets became a
disaster for consumers when companies like Enron manipulated the
West Cost power market and even shut down plants so they could
drive up prices".

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/enron-tapes-anger-lawmakers/

Dec 16, 2015 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

TinyCO2: phew! You had me worried for a moment. Mind you, I doubt that there are many politicians (MPs or otherwise) who give two hoots about the planet, the poor, the unborn, or anything or anyone else other than themselves – and the higher up the greasy pole they climb, the more self-centred they become (fill in with your own examples, here – I know you all have them!).

Dec 16, 2015 at 8:53 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

4 (boilers) of our nukes tripped offline today, 2GW gone...

Dec 16, 2015 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterGaznotprom

The electricity market consists of apples and pears.

The apples are the wind/solar generators who get paid for any production, at any time, in any quantity, and they get a subsidy!

The pears are the coal/oil/gas/nuclear generators who get paid for production, only when the wind is in the right direction, for them, and the sun isn't shining, but they can deliver it on time, to order, and they don't get subsidies. In fact, they pay green taxes, to subsidise the apples!

And the apples are also morally superior, in every way, and feel good because they are saving the planet, and taking the micky out of everyone else, and their money.

That is hardly a free market. This hour long lecture presents some ideas to level the playing field:
The IET Mountbatten Lecture 2015: The New Energy Landscape, by Professor Dieter Helm
https://tv.theiet.org/?videoid=7379

Dec 16, 2015 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

Capitalism is the financial system that has bought an unprecedented increase in the standard of living to people living in the West. It has provided the right conditions for innovation and wealth creation. No other system in the history of mankind has been as successful. Capitalism needs regulation as do most activities people engage in.

However regulation in capitalism has just one tenant that all regulation must conform to for it to work. That is all regulation must have at it root the protection of the individual against the interests of the corporate and the Government. If a rule does not have that tenant at its core then it won't work, and will have unintended consequences most of which will have a negative effect on the individual.

Rules within the UK's energy market mostly state what the government wants, or are crafted to protect the bottom line of the corporate. That is in a nutshell why our energy market is in the mess its in.

Dec 16, 2015 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterMG

If the Macquarie Group Ltd is anything to do with the Australian Macquarie Bank then this isn't surprising.
It's kown locally at the Millionaire Factory - that's the staff, not the customers.

Dec 16, 2015 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Giddings

Robert Christopher, this is why it is important for the public to understand the difference between Reliable and Unreliable power generation.

This is why it is important for the advocates of Unreliable power, not to have it described as Unreliable, and they try to avoid the word Unreliable at any cost, provided the cost of Unreliable power is paid by everybody else, and they are never told how much extra it costs to have something so hopelessly Unreliable.

In the meantime, all Government Departments requiring Reliable power, claim to use Unreliable power, but have Reliable Diesel Generators, for those occasions when the Government in power requires reliable power, not Unreliable power, to stay in power. This is GreenFingered Economics, and should be returned to the compost heap.

For Reliable wind power, try 97 different varieties of baked bean,

Dec 16, 2015 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Rhoda Dec 16, 2015 at 5:32 PM,

Monopolies in private hands are bad, of course. What exactly is so special about government hands which could make a monopoly OK? Competence? Lack of conflicting priorities? DMMFL.
In democracies the Government can be voted out by the people.
That is different from a private company who serves the shareholders (in theory) not the captive consumers.

Without competition there is no market. No market forces to drive efficiency or keep prices affordable. Or even to ensure a continuous service.

But such terrible failures will be unpopular with the electorate.
That is why, where there is no competitive market, state control is better than private ownership.

Dec 16, 2015 at 11:23 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

golf charlie on Dec 16, 2015 at 10:26 PM

You mean a reliable service, like an electricity supply, an education, a bus service, flood prevention, an air flight or sea crossing, or a parachute, has a higher value because it is reliable? :)

Dieter Helm suggests EVERY energy supplier should need to deliver 'firm energy', a guaranteed agreed level of supply, on time, so if they have unreliable power generation, they need to subcontract any cover. That would help those using gas/coal energy sources.

So, if Hinckley C is late in entering production, then Hinckley C should be paying any extra costs to fill the gap.

Dec 16, 2015 at 11:35 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mike Jackson,

Hope the lie down helped. It seemed a bit intemperate to accuse Andrew Duffin of obtuseness. Your statement:


as M Courtney rightly says, you cannot afford to leave infrastructure as vital as electricity supply to the market.

was pretty well skewered by his supposedly obtuse comment. The fact that it is a monopoly at the point of supply is much more important than its vitalness or its infrastructuriness.

A public sector monopoly will probably be less grasping, but government abuse of monopoly power is not unheard of (often through inaction).

Perhaps what the regulators should do is to second some expert climate modellers to their department and use their special talents to project electricity price and availability in the wake of various regulation forcings. Should be a doddle.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

Robert Christopher, yes, I think Reliability has a lot going for it. It is nice to go out for a drive, when the sun is shining, but it would not be good to be only able to go out IF the sun is shining. Similarly, I like a car to stop when I press the brake pedal, not simply because the sun is not shining.

Imagine how long the rush hour would be, if cars stopped, when it got dark. All roads would be like the M25.

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mike Jackson, that's not what Ken Lay did. I also thought of California on reading this article, and indeed the utilities were doing things like this.

Enron was doing lots of shady accounting, and also trying to gamble with oil prices, as well as trying to establish itself as a dominant player in CO2 markets.

Dec 17, 2015 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

"I wonder whether in the Brave New World of smart meters we couldn't ensure that consumers contract directly with generators, cutting out the middle man."
Dec 16, 2015 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

It would be a fine thing, but I am not holding my breath.

In the last 24 hours I have had two internet adverts for smart-meters forced on me at youtube (the kind of ads which don't allow you the option 'click to to skip this advert in xx seconds'). They both started with the phrase "smart meters are coming", in what I can only describe as a slightly unsavoury and threatening manner.

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

MikeN

Enron were desperately trying to move away from the physical supply of energy toward energy trading and that's where they crashed and burned. It's interesting that their baby, carbon trading crashed and burned too. .


"Enron Also Courted Democrats

Dan Morgan, Washington Post Published 4:00 am, Sunday, January 13, 2002

According to internal Enron documents and the recollections of former employees, Chairman Kenneth L. Lay had the ear of top Democrats in the 1980s and '90s. He and his colleagues used that access to promote the company's interests with the Clinton administration and key congressional Democrats.

In a White House meeting in August 1997, for example, Lay urged President Clinton and Vice President Gore to back a "market-based" approach to the problem of global warming -- a strategy that a later Enron memo makes clear would be "good for Enron stock."

On Aug. 4, 1997, Lay and seven other energy executives met with Clinton, Gore, Rubin and other top officials at the White House to discuss the U.S. position at the upcoming conference on global warming in Kyoto, Japan. Lay, in a memo to Enron employees, said there was broad consensus in favor of an emissions-trading system.

Enron officials later expressed elation at the results of the Kyoto conference. An internal memo said the Kyoto agreement, if implemented, would "do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States."

No longer on Washington Post website, republished here

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/THE-ENRON-COLLAPSE-Gaining-Favor-in-Washington-2884271.php


Washington Post - Kyoto 2

But some business groups -- especially those representing alternative energy technologies -- praised the president's plan. "This is a measured, appropriate action plan, given what we know about global warming," said Terry Thorn, senior vice president of Enron Corp. of Houston.

More than a dozen senior executives representing such companies as Nike Inc., Bechtel Group Inc. and Mitsubishi Motor Corp. have endorsed a newspaper ad running this week that calls for "strong leadership" by the United States on climate change.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/climate/stories/clim102397.htm

Dec 17, 2015 at 3:51 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

It doesn't add up
Does this recent French energy fluctuation have to do with the new Hollande/Royale dirigisme I wonder.....
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-New-French-energy-policy-to-limit-nuclear-1806144.html
"French president Francois Hollande's 2012 election pledge was to limit nuclear's share of French generation at 50% by 2025, and the closure of France's oldest nuclear power plant, Fessenheim, by the end of 2016. Now, following a national energy debate, his government has announced that the country's nuclear generating capacity will indeed be capped at the current level of 63.2 GWe. It will also be limited to 50% of France's total output by 2025. Nuclear currently accounts for almost 75% of the country's electricity production, making closures of power reactors appear inevitable."

Just how much would a company like EDF spend on it's reactor maintenance if they are already forced into widespread rationalisation. Of course both Areva and EDF are owed huge sums by the French state with little chance of getting it anytime soon but most especially if they defy the government.As I said above - the French had the solution already but the dinosaurs of the left are determined to screw it up.

More importantly, this new French energy policy tells us that the French socialists think nuclear power is worse than CO2....exactly in line with greenpeace. Insodoing they are admitting that CO2 is not the big bogeyman they pretend; just an excuse to build more windmills and solar panels. Of course they will have to backtrack but I wonder how much damage they will manage to cause before being ousted.

I don't think it's a matter about private versus public. It needs to be about what works best for the public. All we need for now is more public capacity; an energy safety net. The ideal situation for energy providers is to have minimal capacity because that way they can charge what they want. And yes that is exactly what we must expect from capitalism - which is strongly motivated to remove competition, despite what the Hayek theorists prefer to believe.

Dec 17, 2015 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

M C, monopoly is bad. You can't get rid of a government monopoly in any way at all. You can't vote it out, unless you are voting for a privatising manifesto. You could not fix BT, or BR or the NHS by voting to change the hand at the tiller if there was to be no competition. Governent monpolies hate competition. Government always moves to fix the market even where competition exists. By regulation, mostly. Government monopoly is bad, just as bad as private monopoly, because it's the monopoly that's bad. Being run by the govt cannot make it good. This is not Ayn Rand writing here, just Rhoda. Who gets Texas electricity at a price right in the same ballpark as the GBP 40/MWH mentioned in the article as a typical generator's price, delivered, retail. Look back through history at all the things the government run. How many times did they actually pioneer the service? Never. No, they saw something they would like to control and took it over. Then pushed the others out like a Cuckoo chick taking over the nest. Back on topic, the way to fix electricity in the UK is to remove all the obstacles to competition. Regulation will still be necessary, but it needs to be with a light hand. Minimally intrusive. Like that could ever happen.

Dec 17, 2015 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda, it seems we must agree to disagree.

But note, I don't see how a commodity like electricity, that cannot be stored and cannot be distributed separately, can be traded in a market.

The question isn't "Should we use the market to deliver electricity?"
The question isn't even "How can we make a working market for electricity?"

The question is "What do we do when there can't be a market?"
You want to reduce the regulations and get as close as we can. I say try the Leviathan under the democratic control of the people.
We can't both be right. We may both be wrong. But they are both reasonable ideas.

Dec 17, 2015 at 9:14 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

@Andrew Duffin, Dec 16, 2015 at 9:46 AM

It's lucky we don't leave something as vital as food supplies to the private sector, isn't it!

Everyone would starve, and those pesky foreigners would make immoral fortunes.

A perfect example of how the capitalist free market works to benefit all stakeholders. Any monopoly/cartel excess profits are seen and removed by new entrants. Aldi and Lidl in UK show this in action as do Booker's Premier Store franchise and similar.


@Breath of Fresh Air, Dec 16, 2015 at 9:49 AM

The cheapest consumer prices for electricity were after privatisation with little regulation, since then regulation has increased and delay after delay on new capacity decisions have effectively renationalised the industry. And with renationalisation has come higher prices, at $38 per barrel being reflected in kerosene prices it must be very temping to start generating yourself.

Indeed, then the Blair/Brown/Milliband socialists "We know <s>high taxes & prices and some tax-credits given back are</s> what is best for you as then you see firms as capitalist leeches and the state as your saviour" performed a de-facto re-nationalisation through interference, market manipulation and regulation.


@Mike Jackson, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:36 AM

If I don't like Quaker Oats I can have Scotts.

Bad example. Quaker bought Scotts in 1982.


@Alan the Brit, Dec 16, 2015 at 12:22 PM

As for HS2, whilst the venal, mendacious, sel-serving, self-promoting, self-enriching, arsewipes in Westminster try to come up with all sorts of silly arguments in favour of it to convince a largely unconvinced public at large, it is an EU directive from on high, all regions of the EU MUST be accessible by high speed train! Full stop, no argument!

Reason: vanity, publicity and many other adjectives. eg photo ops with new thing behind. Example: Forth Road bridge 2 - seabed tunnel 1/2 the price and not closed by winds, photo in front of a black hole isn't as nice as a big bridge.

EU directives are also why we uselessly recycle (glass, paper & cardboard used as hardcore), have floods due to undredged water courses, dredged mud classed as hazardous waste, no new reservoirs in UK despite population increase, the list is endless and Booker is one of very few in MSM who reveals it.


@SimonW, Dec 16, 2015 at 1:08 PM

Despite being made (voluntarily) redundant shortly afterwards I thought the privatisation was a "good" thing. The CEGB was definitely bloated (mostly admin related) with many inefficiencies although I was always impressed by the engineers I came into contact with.

That is the problem with all public sector organisations. With no requirement to make a profit and a loss not resulting in bankruptcy and no job there is no restriction on employee profligacy including hiring fiends, relatives, friends of fiends etc who are useless and can't find a job and you swallow their sob story. The NHS under Blair/Brown exemplifies this - budget was doubled, standards declined, deficits increased, medical staff saw a small increase, admin staff more than doubled.


@C, Dec 16, 2015 at 3:57 PM

"What's the time, Dork of Cork."

"Well, its wibble saugage three throung nine noony no. Have you not seen this people have many views thirty dribble boing. See you look here well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8CIDdKvUkg "

"Uk, OK,,er, thanks."

Reminds me of my mother:
"Mum, what time is it?"
Mum: "Oh, is it that time already"
"What time is it?"
Mum: "I didn't realise it was that late/early"
face-palm

You forgot:
"What's the time, esmiff."

"Well, its ENRON wibble California saugage http://enron-capitalist-conspiracy three throung nine Banks noony no Hedge funds. Have you not ENRON Bush Reagan Thatcher read http://thirty.dribble.boing"

"Uk, OK,,er, thanks."

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPcar

@Andrew Duffin, Dec 16, 2015 at 9:46 AM

It's lucky we don't leave something as vital as food supplies to the private sector, isn't it!

Everyone would starve, and those pesky foreigners would make immoral fortunes.

A perfect example of how the capitalist free market works to benefit all stakeholders. Any monopoly/cartel excess profits are seen and removed by new entrants. Aldi and Lidl in UK show this in action as do Booker's Premier Store franchise and similar.


@Breath of Fresh Air, Dec 16, 2015 at 9:49 AM

The cheapest consumer prices for electricity were after privatisation with little regulation, since then regulation has increased and delay after delay on new capacity decisions have effectively renationalised the industry. And with renationalisation has come higher prices, at $38 per barrel being reflected in kerosene prices it must be very temping to start generating yourself.

Indeed, then the Blair/Brown/Milliband socialists "We know high taxes & prices and some tax-credits given back are what is best for you as then you see firms as capitalist leeches and the state as your saviour" performed a de-facto re-nationalisation through interference, market manipulation and regulation.


@Mike Jackson, Dec 16, 2015 at 11:36 AM

If I don't like Quaker Oats I can have Scotts.

Bad example. Quaker bought Scotts in 1982.


@Alan the Brit, Dec 16, 2015 at 12:22 PM

As for HS2, whilst the venal, mendacious, sel-serving, self-promoting, self-enriching, arsewipes in Westminster try to come up with all sorts of silly arguments in favour of it to convince a largely unconvinced public at large, it is an EU directive from on high, all regions of the EU MUST be accessible by high speed train! Full stop, no argument!

Reason: vanity, publicity and many other adjectives. eg photo ops with new thing behind. Example: Forth Road bridge 2 - seabed tunnel 1/2 the price and not closed by winds, photo in front of a black hole isn't as nice as a big bridge.

EU directives are also why we uselessly recycle (glass, paper & cardboard used as hardcore), have floods due to undredged water courses, dredged mud classed as hazardous waste, no new reservoirs in UK despite population increase, the list is endless and Booker is one of very few in MSM who reveals it.


@SimonW, Dec 16, 2015 at 1:08 PM

Despite being made (voluntarily) redundant shortly afterwards I thought the privatisation was a "good" thing. The CEGB was definitely bloated (mostly admin related) with many inefficiencies although I was always impressed by the engineers I came into contact with.

That is the problem with all public sector organisations. With no requirement to make a profit and a loss not resulting in bankruptcy and no job there is no restriction on employee profligacy including hiring fiends, relatives, friends of fiends etc who are useless and can't find a job and you swallow their sob story. The NHS under Blair/Brown exemplifies this - budget was doubled, standards declined, deficits increased, medical staff saw a small increase, admin staff more than doubled.


@C, Dec 16, 2015 at 3:57 PM

"What's the time, Dork of Cork."

"Well, its wibble saugage three throung nine noony no. Have you not seen this people have many views thirty dribble boing. See you look here well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8CIDdKvUkg "

"Uk, OK,,er, thanks."

Reminds me of my mother:
"Mum, what time is it?"
Mum: "Oh, is it that time already"
"What time is it?"
Mum: "I didn't realise it was that late/early"
face-palm

You forgot:
"What's the time, esmiff."

"Well, its ENRON wibble California saugage http://enron-capitalist-conspiracy three throung nine Banks noony no Hedge funds. Have you not ENRON Bush Reagan Thatcher read http://thirty.dribble.boing"

"Uk, OK,,er, thanks."

Dec 17, 2015 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterPcar

The only thing worse than a public monopoly is a private monopoly. And private monopolies occur when governments allow corporates and agencies like the EU/UN to frame regulation.

How we've got to where we are is because much of the regulation in the world is aimed at protecting the bottom line rather than protecting the individual. It is a simple concept, but is at the core of understanding how our world is going wrong.

Let me give you one example. A tender for new trains was issued, and part of the tender was that the manufacturer had to self finance until completion when our Government would hand over the money. Only one company had an "A" rating and they were the only one who could win the contract. Its very unusual for manufacturers to be so highly rated. They could have delivered scotch mist, but there could be only one winner of the tender. This was a classic case of using regulation to exclude competitors and winning the business was not about who could deliver the best trains, but who had the cheapest finance.

A fundamental reappraisal of our approach to capitalism is the only argument that will solve our energy woes. All other arguments no matter how technically valid will fail without the fundamentals being correct.

Dec 17, 2015 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterMG

You guys frighten me with your preferences for nationalised industries.
Imagine you are in the position of being able to build an electricity plant big enough to compete with existing majors. You ought to be able to go ahead and be rewarded by profit if you have a better mousetrap. However, I shall not even try to itemise the barriers put in front of young the grey cardigan parade, the unions, the greens, the commies and rent seekers and so on. "But we need to monitor your operation in case you threaten worker safety..." No need to elaborate here. Just believe that the most disturbing society change I have seen in my 70+ years is the huge growth of people paid to tell other people what they can and cannot do.
In order to feel the impact of this decay from fun to drudgery you have to have worked under the opposite ends of regulation. In my 20s I was able to do this by exploring for new mines, finding them, making them producers of fair profits against stiff and clever competition. Sure we paid a royalty on sales at a rate known in advance but there were not many other inventive impediments.
These days, you almost have to let half a dozen regulators shag you nightly in return for what used to be a normal mode of operation.
Much of my career as a scientist was spent on managing and inventing ways to make the buggers irrelevant. I think I can claim a world first and only.
At one stage in my 40s I ran a court case that resulted in the Judge telling the United Nations and their World Heritage treaty to sod off. This was the day before they had announced that they would have a grand party and inscribe the property on their list, so the little darlings got upset.
These days how many of the bloggers writing here are prepared to cherish their principles enough to hit the international club like that?
I won't rant on, but it seems that there has been a lack of eternal vigilance in the last 2 decades.
For chrissake, use every resource you can to get the lead out of the saddle of progress.

Dec 18, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

You guys frighten me with your preferences for nationalised industries.
Imagine you are in the position of being able to build an electricity plant big enough to compete with existing majors. You ought to be able to go ahead and be rewarded by profit if you have a better mousetrap. However, I shall not even try to itemise the barriers put in front of young the grey cardigan parade, the unions, the greens, the commies and rent seekers and so on. "But we need to monitor your operation in case you threaten worker safety..." No need to elaborate here. Just believe that the most disturbing society change I have seen in my 70+ years is the huge growth of people paid to tell other people what they can and cannot do.
In order to feel the impact of this decay from fun to drudgery you have to have worked under the opposite ends of regulation. In my 20s I was able to do this by exploring for new mines, finding them, making them producers of fair profits against stiff and clever competition. Sure we paid a royalty on sales at a rate known in advance but there were not many other inventive impediments.
These days, you almost have to let half a dozen regulators shag you nightly in return for what used to be a normal mode of operation.
Much of my career as a scientist was spent on managing and inventing ways to make the buggers irrelevant. I think I can claim a world first and only.
At one stage in my 40s I ran a court case that resulted in the Judge telling the United Nations and their World Heritage treaty to sod off. This was the day before they had announced that they would have a grand party and inscribe the property on their list, so the little darlings got upset.
These days how many of the bloggers writing here are prepared to cherish their principles enough to hit the international club like that?
I won't rant on, but it seems that there has been a lack of eternal vigilance in the last 2 decades.
For chrissake, use every resource you can to get the lead out of the saddle of progress.

Dec 18, 2015 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

I agree with PeterMG and Geoff. I don't usually do me-too comments but they are right. The problem with regulators is that they are employed to regulate, and they can't ever say 'done' in case they lose their jobs.

Dec 20, 2015 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

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