The ability to maintain an acceptable temperature through the winter and enjoy a piping hot shower in the morning might well be one of humanity’s greatest achievements – right up there with Spanx bum-enhancing pants, polyphonic ringtones and the Segway.
But, stopping short of ‘going hermit’ and living off the grid in a cave somewhere, or investing massively in your own wood-burning, solar-utilising energy arrangements, there’s not much you can do to get out of paying a gas and electricity company to help you do this. That presents said energy companies with a prime opportunity to make heaps of cash.
And plenty of that has been going on lately. Centrica, owner of British Gas, was left doing a merry corporate jig after bouts of icy weather last winter caused its customers to reach for the heating dial, helping its profits soar by 11% to £606 million… just months after the company unleashed a 6% price rise.
Quite understandably, there was uproar. “(It’s unacceptable that energy companies) get away with inflation-busting price rises when they are already making huge profits and when people can least afford it,” blustered Labour shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint.
Meanwhile, Centrica chief exec Sam Laidlaw attempted to defend the “fair and reasonable return” required for “investment”… and definitely not required for keeping its shareholders in beluga caviar and dodo eggs for breakfast.
So thank heavens there was cause to celebrate our energy industry elsewhere, as EDF sued a gang of potless climate change protestors for the sum of five million quid. Oh. Perhaps not then.
The energy giant – not exactly shy of a bob, in the grand scheme of things – turned its ire on 21 campaigners who staged a ‘60s-style ‘sit in’ last year which disrupted the West Burton plant in Nottinghamshire. A bit of a nuisance, perhaps, but considering that lots of the protestors now fear they’ll lose their homes, the Money Shot believes that this might be considered “a bit much.”.
Of course, there’s one surprisingly easy way to register your disgust at your energy provider – that’s by taking your business elsewhere.
Makes you glad that it’s meant to be warming up soon, doesn’t it?
SHORT CHANGE – THE WEEK’S MONEY NEWS IN BRIEF
Thought the base rate of interest couldn’t get any lower? Think again – NEGATIVE INTEREST – might well be on the way. Not good if you actually have savings.
Speaking of energy, Dame Helen Ghosh – the new head of the National Trust – has given the thumbs up to wind turbines, saying they can be beautiful and that they could be admired in centuries to come.
The bit of NatWest which belongs to the taxpayer might well be flogged back to the private sector soon.
ON COVERED THIS WEEK
Kristian Dando went and had a look at Moody’s, the credit rating agency which downgraded Britain’s classification.
Daniel Bevis and Chris Pollitt had a heated debate on the subject of the MINI.
Tom Cropper had a look at ethical banking, and pondered just exactly what it means.
Party planners in Essex have had their hopes of booking bootylicious US pop starlet Beyonce for a carnival dashed, after they learned how much money it would cost just to negotiate with the ‘Crazy In Love’ singer.
Maldon Carnival – which attracts hundreds of visitors every year – thought it was in with a shout of attracting the former Destiny’s Child chanteuse when her ‘people’ answered an enquiry saying, yes, she was in the country on the August date requested.
However, council plans were soon scuppered when it learned that it would cost £50,000 to have discussions with the wife of hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.
Carnival spokesman Robert Slight said: “We got one reply from a PR company representing Beyonce's tour in the UK saying she was possibly available on the date and they were happy to have a call. I explained it was a charity event and he said she could do a couple of songs and meet the mayor of Maldon.
“When he said just to talk about an appearance would cost £50,000, it [the deal] keeled completely. I felt bad for him coming down and he sent an email saying there had been a miscommunication."
Here's Beyonce and the Destiny's Child gang to play us out - appropriately enough - with their 1999 hit 'Bills, Bills, Bills'.
Join us NEXT WEEK for another THRILLING instalment of THE MONEY SHOT.