LIVE: Greenpeace activists shut down Centrica HQ

Posted by petespeller — 30 April 2012 at 7:09am - Comments
Giant energy bill outside Centrica offices
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace
Is your energy bill as big as this?

This morning 50 Greenpeace volunteers shut down the head office of British Gas owners Centrica using the world's biggest energy bill.

We're there to tell Centrica to end its dangerous addiction to expensive and polluting fossil fuels. It is time to get off the gas price rollercoaster and start investing in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency to bring bills under control and tackle climate change.

Take action now to tell Centrica to end the energy rip-off!

Follow the live updates here or join the conversation using #energybills

It seems ironic that Greenpeace are complaining about energy bills being too high when this is a way to reduce energy consumption. Particularly when one of the reasons energy bills are so high is the increased money spent on green energy, such as the windfarms that Centrica have been one of the primary advocates of. You would think that would make Centrica popular with Greenpeace, but these protesters obviously have nothing better to do than disrupt other peoples jobs.

Ironically the only projects currently in construction by Centrica in the UK are windfarms... well done for delaying the build a day..

I'm a bit baffled by this campaign. Yes, I agree that we shouldn't be importing so much gas, but how are you going to replace it?  Yes, I agree that it is a dirty fuel, but if supplies were to cease millions of people would have to spend £billions which they probably can't afford to change their heating systems to another source.  It's no good just having knee-jerk demo's without thinking through the consequences for ordinary people.

As an offshore renewable energy developer working in the UK and Europe, I would recommend that you research your facts as Centrica is doing more to get into renewables and move towards a balanced energy mix than most of the other utilities. Also, can i ask that you actually get involved in renewables yourselves, especially offshore wind, as you have done nothing to help my colleagues and I in offshore over the past decade that I have been developing offshore wind farms. I think there are bigger issues on the planet that you should be directing your precious resources at, rather than acting like hooligans in Windsor

I am also extremely baffled by this. I think Green Peace need to do thier homework as Centrica is one of the largest investors in Europe in renewable energy, owns a large stake in UK Nuclear and has the lowest carbon footprint of all the big six energy suppliers. The office they have also shut down is where the centrica renewables team is based (over 190 people). There seems to be significant irony in this campaign.

I also think Green Peace have gone after the wrong people here, I am withdrawing my financial support for them as I have lost confidence in thier tactics.

And of course the vans used to block the site were put there by pedal power, the metal handcuffs were hand built by greenpeace with environmentally sound techniques, and this website is powered by green energy. no wait its with gradwell (http://www.who.is/dns/greenpeace.org.uk/) not one of the many low carbon hosters... oh dear.

Now i agree we need to move away from fossil fuels, but you'll just shout more about the  nuclear power we need. (which interestingly has the lowest death per TwH of any source even after Fukoshima - http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html)

 

I have been a supporter of Greenpeace for many years I am also withdrawing my funding. Hearing they have barricaded the offices of Centrica's renewable team just defies belief. It is obviously no longer a green campaign group.

Are the vans that the protestors drove to Windor in horse-drawn or powered by love? Surely they're not filled with evil planet-killing fossil fuels are they? That would be a massive own goal - "Greenpeace burn gallons of petrol to protest against company who are building wind farms". Cretins. Utter, utter cretins.

Are you sure Greenpeace? Your headline argument complains of high bills but is that really the thrust of your argument? No, clearly not, so you are just acting liking hooligans, trying to whip up a mob with dis-jointed statement and bringing unwarranted disruption to people's lives. Surely there are more reasonable channels for your (fair) point about the journey to renewables.

Oh, and the cheeky smug smiles (one of your website photo's) are always a winner in this sort of action....

Lots of these comments originating from Centrica's office in Staines, but that's fine it's good to have the conversation.

A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed how Centrica have built the least renewable energy generating capacity, and invested the least of all the Big Six. Instead of investing in Britain’s energy future, or delivering lower bills for its customers, they have simply taken the money.

If Centrica instead invested in clean, cutting-edge renewable energy and energy efficiency, they would help to both bring household bills under control and to tackle climate change.

But they have the least clean energy capacity of any of the big energy utilities.

Gas is to blame for our rocketing household bills. The average energy bill has risen by £150 in the last year, and £100 of that is due solely to the soaring price of gas.

Building clean, renewable energy will protect us from gas price spikes and bring bills under control. And building renewable energy projects here would mean more jobs, a reduced trade deficit and economic growth.

Pete. Send us a link to the Bloomberg report please. Let's judge for ourselves.

You can download the report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance here http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports/big-six-utilities-investment-...

I'm sorry how can you tell that these messages come from Centria staff? Or are you just trying to cover your mistakes?

I notice you comment about the comments from Centrica's staff but arent answering any of their assertions....I wonder why...too embarrassed about getting it wrong????

would be interesting to see on what your basing "Lots of these comments originating from Centrica's office in Staines, but that's fine it's good to have the conversation."

Especially as your website makes no mention of recording IP addresses, so tell me who should i send claims for misappropriation of data to?

(Not that im in Staines or with BG)

Yes Pete lets see this report,  does it detail the Centrica windfarm projects below, Greenpeace are now campaigning openly for cheaper energy, which of course has a higher carbon footprint. Think again before contributing to this organisation as they have obviously lost their way.

Onshore

•Glens of Foudland        •Braes of Doune     Offshore•Barrow Offshore Wind        •Lynn •Inner Dowsing                •Lincs  (JV Siemens/DONG)       •Race Bank        •Docking Shoal        

             The Irish Sea Zone

This was my favourite bit of the report:

"If we rank companies by zero-carbon capacity Centrica and EDF Energy move to the top of the table. This change, from their relatively  low  positions in the renewable ranking,  is  due to their ownership of the AGR Nuclear fleet."

So what would you like Pete, cheaper gas bills or climate change to be tackled? 

open mouth.....insert foot...oh dear GP...

Thanks Pete, the Bloomberg report makes interesting, if depressing, reading. We just don't invest enough and Centrica languishes behind the poor performance of its main competitors. Sorry guys, owning a Nuclear fleet seems to me to be missing the point.

Their corporate responsibility aim is to build stakeholder trust; their directors' rewards are based on delivering value to shareholders (source: their website). Perhaps that mis-match is one of the problems?

What a wast of time and car journeys - I car share and I have just wasted 2 and half hours on the road since I cannot get to work in Windsor.  What is the environmental impact of that???  Some of us do care for the environment whilst working for Centrica but we have to and want to work not stand around at the front - some of us are fighting to keep our jobs at the moment and this does not help!  Its a fact of life - energy prices are rising due to the make up of our energy mix. Renewables are a noble cause but only generate a microscopic amount of energy comapred to other sources.  We are all going to have to get used to higher energy prices whether we like it or not.  Higher prices mean less consumption and lower carbon footprint.  So what's your point????  Instead of bashing Centrica you should be looking at other generators who CO2 footprint is much more significant and who are doing a lot less than Centrica to invest in renewables.  Shame on you.

'

would be interesting to see on what your basing "Lots of these
comments originating from Centrica's office in Staines, but that's fine
it's good to have the conversation."

Especially as your website makes no mention of recording IP
addresses, so tell me who should i send claims for misappropriation of
data to?'

All websites have web logs which show the IP address and other information. It's perfectly legal to check the IP addresses and Centrica's are easy to spot, they are with cable and wireless. So I suspect the information Greenpeace is giving is true and easily verifiable. The people who are making the comments from their work computer systems are probably also in breach of the IS policy too and could be sacked.

I agree with the comments above about Greenpeace going off the rails. I have seen first hand the amount of investment and expansion in renewables at Centrica. And if you are checking IP addresses you will find I am working in Windsor in the office that you have allegedly completely closed for the day. Mind you with all of the doors barracaded and people chained to the front I just hope there is not a fire or your irresponsible actions could prove to be more than just disruptive.

why don't greenpeace realise that "shock" tactics such as these just make your organisation look like a joke to the masses especially when you are protesting armed with uneducated and ill-informed assumptions.

Go and get real jobs and stop wasting everybody's time.

Also, the irony of you doing these kind of things means that Centrica (and most of the other utilities companies) will have to greatly increase their security personnel - where do you think that cost is going? Straight onto people's bills, that's where! So you've probably managed to add 10p to each of their customer's bills. Nice one.

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance report is about investment in renewables which are clearly more sustainable, than nuclear. SSE and Scottish Power come out well (ish) and Centrica clearly don't. I think that the point Greenpeace is making is that the fact Centrica happen to own some old nuclear capacity doesn't really compensate for the fact that they have over recent years invested very little in the UK's move to a decarbonised power sector. Nuclear, as everyone knows, is not a technology which Greenpeace supports and they have a fair point - it cannot be build without subsidy including the taxpayer taking on a portion of the liability (given the huge costs of a nuclear cleanup). It's also leaving waste which future generations will have to deal with (and they won't have benefitted from the energy generated) and don't get me started on the decomissioning costs. Well done Greenpeace.  

How many extra security personnel would Centrica have to hire to add 10p to each person's bills? And how much are they paying the security? What a ridiculous comment!

They are simply not doing enough, when you consider how the bills have increased.  Surely if all the price hike was down to them investing in renewables their investers would not make a 74% profit!! While the rest of us are losing jobs, our pay is not increasing and everything is increasing including ENERGY BILLS!! IS THIS FAIR????????? 

And before someone points out the renewables need subsidy too, the point is that they're a new technology with costs coming down. Nuclear is an old technology with costs heading up. (See the recent Economist feature on nuclear)

All these people defending Centrica on the basis that they do some renewable energy. It's quite frankly laughable. They're not doing it because they care about us or the planet. Did you know that British Gas (the retail side of the business) actually buys it's energy from Centrica and that Centrica sets the price they sell it to British Gas? So if Centrica sells it to British Gas at a high price then British Gas may lose profit but Centrica can gain. It's all a game to benefit the few. It's also worth noting that British Gas are not only off shoring windfarms but also their staff. A couple of hundred jobs are due to go off shore and the workers aren't happy. Then there's the shutting down of the southhampton call centre with the loss of jobs. British Gas is currently performing cost saving because politically it can't be seen to keep increasing prices. That sounds great until you realise that the cost cutting involves people losing their jobs. Also the idea that British Gas is some kind of environmentally friendly company is ludicrous, even many of it's employees can't even be bothered to stick stuff in recycling bins and drive around the corner to work when they can walk. Hardly anyone really gives a crap, it's lip service. Ultimately the real interest is in making money and sustaining market share. The energy industry is in big trouble though, within the industry people are now admitting that it's unsustainable. There's no real drive to self sufficiency though, all hopes are pinned on importing energy, mostly LNG which'll have to go through places like the Strait of Hormuz. Currently we import something like 49% of our gas (32% of our electricity is generated by gas too). That's projected to rise to something like 95% by 2015. We're in deep trouble and nuclear cannot cover the problem in enough time either. That's regardless of the fact that the planet is 'breeding' nuclear fuel such as plutonium and there's nowhere safe to put the stuff and is connected directly to nuclear weapons. Then there's the situation in Fukushima which is far from over and many people suggest it could involve the evacuation of Japan. Not conpiracy theory. This is happening and it's happening now.

I was in at the beginning of this argument and I am not Centrica staff .  I am an OAP and have never worked for anyone connected with or in the gas industry.  I just feel that you haven't thought this through.

"Also, the irony of you doing these kind of things means that Centrica
(and most of the other utilities companies) will have to greatly
increase their security personnel - where do you think that cost is
going? Straight onto people's bills, that's where! So you've probably
managed to add 10p to each of their customer's bills. Nice one."

I'm sure they've got security anyway (or at least - they should have!), sometimes when these things happen theymight pay for extra but you're talking about a few days at maybe £10 at most an hour spread across millions of bills. I doubt that would be 10pon every bill and at least it employs someone. You're scaremongering and if you are doing it from a work computer I suggest you stop now.

"I agree with the comments above about Greenpeace going off the rails. I
have seen first hand the amount of investment and expansion in
renewables at Centrica. And if you are checking IP addresses you will
find I am working in Windsor in the office that you have allegedly
completely closed for the day. Mind you with all of the doors barracaded
and people chained to the front I just hope there is not a fire or your
irresponsible actions could prove to be more than just disruptive."

Windsor or Staines? Your IP address doesn't show your exact location though. Now go and read your IS policy on the intranet.

Seriously is everyone using this as an excuse to skive off?

Comments can hardly come from staff in the Windor office can they?  You're not letting people in!

so disrupte a major corps hq equals lost downtime and increased overheads / costs due to this will only add to bills?  why not picket tesco or sainsburys as they make profits and food is also as vital as energy, just looked at centrica report, make 5p profit in every £1, cmon greenpeace get real

Audrey Bob....Centrica hardly "sets the price"...it's a market driven price

"I'm sure they've got security anyway (or at least - they should have!), sometimes when these things happen theymight pay for extra but you're talking about a few days at maybe £10 at most an hour spread across millions of bills. I doubt that would be 10pon every bill and at least it employs someone. You're scaremongering and if you are doing it from a work computer I suggest you stop now."

How many buildings do the big energy companies have between them? 200, maybe more? Lets say they need another 4 staff each, 24x7, that's £190k A DAY! As this is the 2nd time that Centrica's had problems, they're likely to make their security much tighter... 

Wonder if the protest would have happened if it was raining!

Centrica have no group security anymore, they made the department redundant in February and not one single person now oversees security for the group, every site is vulnerable - and why, to save money, the team had 4 staff who worked hard to ensure that the energy infrastructure was protected, not activists, but wider terrorist or hostile - youll all be compliaining if you had no heating or electricity. bigger picture lost thanks to Boston Consulting

thought i was going to see big giant men called William.

well done greenpeace!

What an incredible patchwork of opinions, what a great debate......why aren't people passionate all of the time, for or against, we need this debate and if it takes Greenpeace invading Centrica to get people thinking about our climate and energy future then all the better.

Just for the record 'we are greener because we have invested heavily in nuclear power' is quite frankly a ridiculous statement for any sane person to subscribe to.

Also, saying that Centrica is into renewables because it has invested a fraction of its retained profits in a wind farm is like saying that McDonalds is into healthy eating because it started doing salads.

Very interesting, Pete Speller lists Greenpeace as a "client".  Check out his web-site, he seems to be a professional activist.  I'm astounded - I never realised organisations actually PAID these activists. I thought people acted out of pure belief in their cause.  

http://petespeller.com/clients

If you give money to Greenpeace, you might want to think again.  Ridiculous tactics! 

I hope this isn't removed.  Please allow freedom of speech. 

Audrey Bob & Pete,

Claims for "dialog" and "conversations" sound great but I find it hard to balance those against the scaremongering about registering IP addresses and references to intranet policies. I've always found Centrica quite willing to openly discuss issues, their policies clearly allow staff to voice their opinions.

You've been less keen to publicise the fact that you have locked people into a building and blocked their cars into the car park - I'm sure neither of you would be keen to have your movements restricted. Yes, there are people in the Windsor offices today, only ones skiving as far as I can see are the people in blue fleeces with "Greenpeace" who are sat outside in the sunshine.

All for the debate, just stikes me that Greenpeace are more interested in strong arm tactics than a debate around viable solutions. Yet to hear any substantive suggestion from you guys on how to reduce bills concurrently with reducing fossil fuel consumption.

Well, I'm a Centrica employee and I must say there's some pretty obvious pro-Centrica astroturfing going on here (no need for IP logs to tell that). Pretty shameful really, whoever's at it should stop now before they really embarrass themselves.

As for the rest of it, if you think renewables will reduce fuel bills or stop spikes in supply and demand then dream on (especially offshore wind power). A wholesale move to 100% renewable powergen carries a whole raft of undesirable consequences for this country, some economic, some environmental.

Anyone who's interested in a dispassionate, comprehensive view from a respected source should go here:

http://www.withouthotair.com/

“One of the reasons energy bills are so high is the increased money spent on green energy”

Data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and energy regulator Ofgem shows that over the last year bills have risen by £100 due to the higher wholesale cost of gas.

In 2011 DECC figures show renewable subsidies added £17 to the average bill.

“Centrica is one of the largest investors in Europe in renewable energy”

Centrica isn’t even one of the largest investors in renewable energy in the UK.

The most recent data – compiled byBloomberg New Energy Finance found that between 2007-11 Centrica had installed less renewable energy than any of the rest of the big six.

Instead it returned 74% of profits to shareholders – more than any of its rivals.

They have also shut down is where the centrica renewables team is based”

It takes years to build an offshore wind farm.

Given Centrica’s dire record on renewables investment, one day spent waking up Centrica’s management ofthe need to invest more in their renewable projects it will be a day well spent.

Centrica “owns a large stake in UK Nuclear and has the lowest carbon footprint of all the big six energy suppliers”

Centrica’s low carbon generation comes from its ownership of some of the UK’s ageing nuclear plants but even Centrica doesn’t think Nuclear is a good investment for the future and recently told the Financial Times it was considering pulling out of its planned joint venture at Hinkley point.

You lot want to get up to Donald Trump's golf course in Scotland..

We live at a time when emotions and feelings count more than truth, and there is a vast ignorance of science.
James Lovelock.

Fossil fuels are not sustainable - science. Therefore we need a viable alternative - fact.

If you are talking about replacing the entire energy system for the planet then perhaps we ought to get started in a more meaningful way than we are at the moment ... in this context no one is doing a good job.

All these negative messages are so transparent, without Greenpeace note it is so obvious they have coming from Centrica themselves, shame on you!!!!

Keep up the good work Greenpeace

Your Bloomberg report seems...a little off. It says Centrica has spent GBP 1.25B since 2006 on new fissil and renewable capacity. This excludes about GBP 2.2B we spent for our 20% of British Energy, which we bought as Nuclear is carbon free.

Yes, I work for Centrica - in the Windsor office. Locking out the renewables team is indeed a fine move!

As for the 1.25B I have no idea where that came from, but we built a new CCGT (fossil) power station for the best part of 1B and I don't know how much the wind farms as Glens, Barrow, Braes, Lynn & Inner Dowsing cost. Add to that the Lincs windfarm due to go into production soon, and Race Bank and Docking Shoal planned plus the Irish Sea blocks we've bought and I'm fairly sure that adds up to more than .25B.

Replace Gas with Renewable electricity? Not going to happen overnight. I was at a National Grid presentation where they said the Gas provides 4 times the energy that Electricity does in the UK. Replacing that - Grid didn't even want to discuss what that would cost in infrastructure to transport it ignoring the cost of building the capacity to generate it.

Sure, it would be lovely to have tons and tons of nice controllable renewable - it needs to be controllable - but we ain't there and the technology to control wing energy accurately just isn't here yet (although may be soon). Practically, what can be done? What do you think we should do?

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