During the last few days we have seen more record profits announced by BP, Shell and now Centrica. This has led to more anger on behalf of consumers, especially as Centrica have also announced that they will increase their charges for household gas supply by 35%.
Whilst I’m not against these companies making a profit, I feel that they are all now just taking the piss and ripping us off in order to please their shareholders and to award their directors and board members fat pay rises. What else can you conclude when they complain about having to absorb higher costs but then announce higher and higher profits each year? We are also told again and again that profits will be used to improve services and to create a better infrastructure for storage and delivery. But each year we hear the same excuse being trotted out by the gas companies – they don’t have enough storage capacity and therefore have to import much of the gas used domestically from Europe.
I’m not convinced that windfall taxes are the right way to go but I do think that something has to be done to bring such greedy companies back down to earth. We can take action as consumers by hunting out the best deal and changing supplier. But their isn’t that much competition for our money and from a quick look on uSwitch there doesn’t seem to be that much of a difference between the prices quoted (though I can’t say that my comparison would be very representative because of my remote rural location). This leads me to suspect that the suppliers are wise to the switching game and are taking steps to limit our room for maneuver. So I think it’s going to take government action in order to make any real impact.
Especially when you remember that there is a finite amount of oil and gas left for these companies to extract and exploit. As these resources become more scarce, we’ll be charged more and more for using the resources and their derivatives. The revenue generated from that income must be used to invest in other forms of power generation and to reduce the amount of energy consumed, not to line the pockets of people who in many cases are already obscenely wealthy.