Utilities

Scrap all energy bills in the lockdown!

All energy bills for residential customers should be scrapped for the period of the lock down. This is a demand that should be made of the government now. Heat, light and energy for homes should be a basic right not a privilege. Yet millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people do not have secure supply. Energy supply companies are not allowed to cut off vulnerable customers, the elderly or those with children. But in many cases they don't have to. If a household has a top up pre-payment meter, and doesn't have the money, they self disconnect anyway by running out of credit. Customers who...

Pause Brexit now!

From Labour for a Socialist Europe Whatever our differing views on Brexit, the whole Labour Party and labour movement should call and campaign for the Brexit transition period due to end on 31 December to be extended significantly – at least an extra year, maybe the full two years permitted under existing rules. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, the possibility of the UK striking a deal with the EU in time looked tenuous. The Tory government has been threatening to walk away and prepare for a No Deal Brexit if the essentials of a deal are not in place by June! Now the next round of UK-EU talks...

Why the lights went out on 9 August

On 9 August a series of blackouts affected more than one million homes, the rail and tube networks, hospitals, and traffic lights. The long term issues that affect energy security are being made much worse by the fragmented, privatised and profit-hungry mess of the UK energy sector. The buffer between supply on the network and demand has been squeezed. This squeeze is mainly down to how the energy market works. The National Grid pays for energy in a virtual auction. They shell out more per unit to the generator companies when they need to meet peak demand. So generators can make money while...

Diary of an engineer: clocking in

I’m a first year engineering apprentice at a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in Sheffield. The plant takes domestic black bin waste and burns it at high temperatures to heat steam, which drives a turbine and an electricity generator. The excess steam from the turbine is then used to heat water, which is pumped around the city to heat buildings — such as the local swimming pool. This morning I cycled the two miles to work in the sunshine, all downhill. Because it’s midsummer, lots of work is taking place on the District Heating network while demand for heat is low, so my route passed a lot...

Corbyn pledges more public ownership: Nationalise utilities and banks!

Editorial from Solidarity 462 Speaking at a Labour Party event on 10 February, Jeremy Corbyn reaffirmed Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledge “to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run”. “By taking our public services back into public hands”, he said, “we will not only put a stop to rip-off monopoly pricing, we will put our shared values and collective goals at the heart of how those public services are run”. He promised “a society which puts its most valuable resources, the creations of our collective...

The Monthly Survey

Socialists must support Scottish self-determination (Dale Street) Labours maundy money (Martin Thomas) The Fragile Middle East peace (Mike Fenwick) TUC leaders bow down to Blair Tories come clean on the welfare state (Jill Mountford) Northern Ireland: still in stalemate (Jack Cleary) Bosnia still needs solidarity (Chris Reynolds) Download PDF

Job cuts at Npower. Expropriate the energy industry!

Energy giant Npower has said it will make 1,460 staff redundant. Their jobs will be outsourced overseas. Offices in Stoke, Peterlee, Thornaby in Teesside, and Oldbury in the West Midlands are being shut. Other affected sites are in the north east and Leeds. 540 office workers will be transferred to Capita. Workers being made redundant are back office workers; the workers being transferred are call centre staff. There may be more redundancies, sell offs and outsourcing, which will effect thousands more staff. Despite Npower’s Gernman parent group RWE being in trouble, profits are still being...

For social ownership of the energy industry!

The National Audit Office has predicted 17 years of above inflation rises in energy bills. They conservatively also predict a 18% increase in energy prices in real terms by 2030. They particularly warn of how it will hit the poorest in society. The Tory-led government has been stung by attacks from Labour and by the general anger shown by working class people about these bills. They have upped their rhetoric against the energy companies. The Lib Dem energy minister Ed Davey pleaded for energy companies to stop treating users like “cash cows”. The government now appears to be being blackmailed...

Berlin reverses privatisation

On 3 November, 600,000 Berliners voted in a referendum to take back the local electricity production and supply into public ownership — 83% of those who voted. This is only 150,000 less than the combined vote of the Social Democrat and conservative Christian Democrat parties (who run the federal state of Berlin) in the last regional elections. The referendum was held after around 230,000 signatures had been collected by the “Berliner Energietisch” campaign, calling for democratic control over and public ownership of the energy supply (and of other basic necessities), 100% green energy, any...

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