Dozens of Greenpeace campaigners have shut down the headquarters of ‘Big Six’ energy company Centrica this morning in a row over rising household energy bills.
The Greenpeace campaigners have blockaded the private road leading to the Windsor-based HQ with a spoof energy bill measuring 260 square feet, which says ‘Your energy bill ripoff is being fuelled by gas hikes’.
All the entrances have also been sealed with large bills, which have been printed on to sheets of wood and locked to the doors. Hundreds of employees of the British Gas parent company are expected to be turned away.
The average energy bill increased by £150 in the last year. £100 of this was solely due to rising gas prices, according to figures from Ofgem, the government’s energy watchdog. Direct subsidies for renewable energy have increased little over the last few years and make up only £25 of the total average annual bill.
Centrica are expecting the supply of gas to shrink, documents obtained by Greenpeace under Freedom of Information laws reveal. This could force bills even higher. The government document says that ‘Centrica judges that by 2013-2014 they expect the global over-supply of gas to disappear.’
The energy company has been lobbying politicians recently to persuade the government to use more gas and less clean energy in its energy mix, to persuade the UK government against establishing new pollution standards for power stations and also to persuade the EU to water down binding commitments on reducing energy demand.
Five of the campaigners are inside the closed-off building, and are trying to locate the office of Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw. They have rolls of wallpaper printed with energy bills which they are hoping to use to re-decorate the room. The campaigners are using a method which ensures that the wallpaper can be easily removed and won’t cause any damage.
Laidlaw has faced criticism recently for pocketing a multi-million pound pay and bonus package while consumers’ bills rose. He has also been under fire in the last few days over allegations of using a tax avoidance scheme.
Lawrence Carter, a Greenpeace campaigner who is currently inside the HQ, said:
“The energy company Centrica is ripping us off. The bills that they are sending out are soaring, and that’s because Centrica uses too much expensive, imported gas.
“Centrica have got to get off gas. The average energy bill has risen by £150 in the last year, and £100 of that is due solely to the rocketing price of gas.
“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.”
A recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed that Centrica has the least renewable energy of all the Big Six energy companies.
Greenpeace press office: 020 7865 8255 and 07717 704577
Note: In 2004 Renewable Obligation Certificates accounted for 1.0% of a dual fuel bill. In March 2012, they account for 1.9% of an annual dual fuel bill. The annual bill amounts in these cases are £1,325 for 2012 and £595 for 2004. That means that subsidies for large-scale renewables account add just £25 a year to a dual fuel bill, and have increased by just £20 since 2004.