On Monday we shut down Centrica’s head office telling them to end the gas fuelled energy rip-off – to bring energy bills under control and reduce CO2 by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
They responded with a letter from their CEO Sam Laidlaw which, whilst detailed, dodged the key point – that they have installed the least renewable energy out of the “big six” utility companies, which, together with increased efforts on energy efficiency, can bring energy bills under control.
Centrica are suggesting we pledge our energy future to expensive, imported gas – an energy source that experts forecast will only get more expensive – rather than investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency that will bring bills under control and tackle climate change. Tell Sam Laidlaw to get off gas and invest in renewables and energy efficiency.
We’ve addressed the key issues brought up in their response below, but you can also read a more detailed response in our open letter to Sam Laidlaw.
Centrica claims to have spent £3bn on “all forms of low carbon power” in the last 5 years.
This includes a £2.2bn investment in Britain’s ageing nuclear power stations, not the new infrastructure that the UK requires.
Centrica paid 17% of cash flow to shareholders.
Cash flow is not profit; it’s the total amount of cash generated by a company, much of which is used, for example, to pay employees, so this is simply a misleading statistic. Between 2007-11 Centrica paid out an average of 74% of its operating profit – not cash flow - to its shareholders. This is more than any other company.
Centrica claim bills had gone down last year
Well last winter was the second warmest on record so it isn’t surprising people used less heating. Since the price per unit of gas and electricity actually went up, it seems Centrica’s strategy to cut bills is to hope for good weather.
Centrica claim wind is more expensive that gas
The price of wind energy is falling and will only get cheaper, whilst gas is getting more expensive. Even Sam Laidlaw recognizes that gas prices will keep going up; he has said as much in The Guardian.
Centrica claims to provide “free” insulation and energy efficiency schemes
These are paid for from consumer’s energy bills, so hardly “free”. They were also criticized for trying to meet energy efficiency targets by giving away 52 million energy efficient light bulbs rather than providing proper insulation.
Email Centrica CEO Sam Laidlaw to tell him to get off gas and invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.