Cheap energy in the UK

Ouch! Utility bills.

Last month, the UK’s gas and electricity suppliers joined in a fuel price war that saw British Gas then NPower then Powergen all lower their gas and electricity prices. British Gas, which cut gas bills by 17% and electricity by 12%. The suppliers have been criticized for introducing the new tariffs at a time when the coldest weather has passed, though British Gas’s price changes come into force earlier than the others on March 12th as opposed to April 30th.

NPower customers would pay 908 a year compared with the 953 paid by British Gas customers after the price cuts took effect, while Powergen, the country’s second largest supplier with 6 million residential customers, have reduced their prices to 913.

But critics are saying the companies aren’t doing enough – Joe Malinowski, founder of the energy price comparison website TheEnergyShop.com, points out: “When you consider that wholesale electricity prices have fallen by over 50% in the last nine months and that Powergen has also put through some of the biggest increases in electricity prices over the past three years, we think they could and should be doing much more.”

The same applies to NPower’s relatively small cut of 3% in electricity prices.

The price paid for gas by all the domestic suppliers has more than halved since April. Consumer groups are hoping that a full-scale price war breaks out between suppliers, and British Gas have already said they might cut prices yet again, with announcements from other big suppliers EDF, Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Energy expected shortly.

Amid all the price-slashing, it’s hard to see how renewables are going to compete among the cheap electricity and gas. The high initial cost of tapping into a renewable energy source is going to put people off, but if you consider paying just under 1,000 annually for your energy anyway then such an investment could be recouped within 7 years or so, as the maintenance costs are considerably lower and the fuel completely free.

But, it seems there is space for renewable energy at NPower. NPower Renewables have just started construction on a wind farm in the Yorkshire Dales amid strong opposition, for aesthetic reasons that will have eight 300ft-high turbines built at Knabs Ridge near Harrogate. It’s expected to take 11 months to complete and will provide green electricity annually for 7,000 homes. But, wind still only accounts for less than 1% of our energy supply, so rather than waiting around for the big guns to get their act together perhaps its time to take matters into your own hands – and get working with that wind speed meter.

See gas and electricity prices compared – TheEnergyShop.com

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