UK families could benefit by at least £2,250 – and up to £4,400 – over the next two years if Britain had the same public ownership of energy as other countries, according to TUC research published today (Saturday).
The analysis is part of a TUC report that sets out proposals for public ownership of new energy generation including wind, solar, tidal, and nuclear. The analysis uses the Treasury’s modelling of excess profits from electricity generation over the next two years.
Many other countries have publicly owned ‘energy champions’ – companies that build power stations, generate electricity, and return their profits to the nation.
If the UK today had a public energy champion like EDF (France), EnBW (Germany), or Vattenfall (Sweden), the UK government could use the excess profits made – equivalent to between £2,250 and £4,400 per UK household – to reduce bills and accelerate home insulation roll-out.
Instead, due to its history of privatisation, the UK is forecast to miss out on between £63 billion and £122 billion in public revenues over the next two years. This could have covered much of the cost of the government’s new Energy Price Guarantee.
Creating public energy assets
In the coming years, the UK will transition away from fossil fuel power stations and towards renewable energy. The TUC argues that this should also be a transition towards giving people a proper stake in the nation’s energy assets.
The union body is calling for the UK government to set up a public energy champion to accelerate decarbonisation, create quality green jobs, and share the benefits of the climate transition with the population.
Unions say that a public ownership approach would provide the nation with a more secure energy supply, lower bills for households for the long-run, and a safer climate future.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“Every family deserves access to affordable, clean energy. But privatisation has led to higher bills and colder homes. We need a fairer, greener approach that stops energy companies using UK families like cash machines.
“French, Swedish and German families benefit from public ownership of electricity – why shouldn’t we? If we set up our own UK public energy champion, we can have lower bills, free home improvements to reduce our energy needs, and a safer climate for future generations.
“The green transition gives us the chance to take public stakes in clean power as we expand our renewable energy supply. And cheaper bills is not the only benefit. We can make sure that our national energy champion provides high-quality jobs, with good pay and job security too.”
- TUC report: The TUC’s report published today provides further detail on our proposal for the creation of public energy champion companies in the UK, and the benefits this will provide to UK families and businesses. The full report is here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2022-09/TUC_public%20energy%20generation_Sept2022.pdf
- BP CEO’s ‘cash machine’ comment: In November 2021 when BP’s third quarter profits of £2.4 billion were announced, chief executive Bernard Looney said: “When the market is strong, when oil prices are strong and when gas prices are strong, this is literally a cash machine.”
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