Households in the UK could face extra costs of around £300 per year as the bill for using fossil fuels to generate electricity spirals ever higher, a new report from Friends of the Earth reveals today (Monday 17 October 2011).

‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ shows that consumers are being misled about the true cause of bill hikes, with some think tanks and commentators blaming ‘green taxes’ when in fact the rocketing price of gas is to blame – and investing in clean power and cutting energy waste is the only way to bring bills down in the long run.

Stan Blackley, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive, said:

“The big six energy companies have a lot to be thankful for – surging profits, bumper executive payouts and that the coalition government is bending over backwards to allow them to keep Britain addicted to fossil fuels.

“Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) may have a higher percentage of renewable generation capacity than the other four companies, but they are equally complicit in price hikes, the dash for gas and putting profits before people.

“David Cameron must urgently set up a public inquiry into the power of the Big Six energy companies – ending their stranglehold over the UK’s energy system will be good for consumers, good for business and good for the planet.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland is also warning that if the Big Six energy companies – including Scottish Power and SSE – continue to invest in fossil fuels, the UK faces an annual bill of £8bn to £13bn extra for our coal and gas by 2020 – with producers likely to pass the cost on to hard-pressed consumers and businesses.

The campaigning charity has welcomed the recent announcement by SSE to auction all of its power on the open market as a step in the right direction, but warns that all energy companies must invest massively in renewables rather than fossil fuels to give consumers a better deal.

ENDS

For media enquiries and a full copy of the report and case studies, please contact: Per Fischer, Press Office, Friends of the Earth Scotland
 t: 0131 243 2719  

Notes to Editors

1. Case studies are available from the Friends of the Earth Scotland press office, and include:

– A family that has installed solar panels because of rising energy prices and has seen a huge reduction in bills.
– A retired pensioner who has changed to a green energy tariff because he’s had enough of the big energy suppliers.
– A thirty-something writer who is sick of energy price rises and the dodgy behaviour of the big energy companies and wants government to act.
– The owner of a small solar panel installation business who’s created new jobs because of government support for green energy, and wants to see it continue.
– The CEO of a green energy company already supplying tens of thousands of customers and looking for the opportunity to do more to take Britain towards a green future.

2. A full summary of the calculations used to arrive at the figure quoted in the report can be provided on request. Friends of the Earth has arrived at the figure of £308 per household by calculating the quantity and cost of all gas and coal used for generating electricity in 2020 compared to a 2010 baseline:

Based on the Department for Energy and Climate Change projections for the fuel mix for generating electricity in 2020, and a range of price predictions for the cost of gas.

Assuming a significant number of coal and nuclear power stations will close between now and 2020, as government and industry thinks is likely.

Assuming that we do not build any more renewables, but instead fill the gap by increasing our use of gas; if the UK abandons aspirations for new renewable energy.

3. Friends of the Earth’s Final Demand campaign is asking people to sign its petition calling on David Cameron to set up a public inquiry into the Big Six at www.foe.co.uk/finaldemand

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is * Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation * An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland * Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk