The absurdity of the Visiting Professor

It is almost absurd that when we face a global heating crisis what is of concern in the UK energy market is the fate of small companies trying to make a buck out of a failed system of energy privatisation that has very largely led to consumer rip off, limited real energy supply transformation, and a system so lacking in co-ordination that it can be claimed that when these companies fail people are left without energy suppliers when glaringly obviously the supply to their properties still exists.

If we are to get serious about tackling global heating the nineteen-eighties obsession with energy market reforms needs to be replaced with energy policy intended to deliver zero net carbon as the only issue of real priority.

And in the process we should also have single, fair, tariffs for all so that the age of rip-off ends forever.

This is what the Green New Deal requires. And we need it now.

One single price for all electricity taken from the network. So, no cheaper electricity when there’s lots of it about. Meaning no load balancing when the sun shines and the wind blows. We can throw out all those smart meters then, the entire plan to deal with intermittentcy.

Or if that’s not what he means, tariffs allowing for different prices at different times, it’s still remarkable, isn’t it? A supposed economist arguing that competition doesn’t increase efficiency over time….

23 comments on “The absurdity of the Visiting Professor

  1. The limited real energy supply transformation includes closing all the coal-power stations without flue gas desulphurisation, so ending the acid rain that destroyed Scandinavian forests (at least according to the Scandinavians, significant real price cuts, the introduction of eco-friendly Combined Heat and Power schemes, retrofitting pumped storage to the Loch Sloy hydroelectric station to practically eliminate the risk of a brown-out of Glasgow …

  2. I remember when we had a single fixed tariff for telephone calls, and in real money they cost more than today.

  3. Not to worry – it’ll all mean something different tomorrow. The thing about the Green New Deal is that it’s entirely new. Every Day.

  4. Hayak observed that the economy is just too complex for a handful of technocrats to manage for optimum benefit and we should just the let market sort things out. Many economists agree, but now and then one of them says “dammit, Hayak may have been right about the others but I can do this”. Krugman has somewhat moved into that mode as well.

  5. “… it can be claimed that when these companies fail people are left without energy suppliers when glaringly obviously the supply to their properties still exists.”

    Does this actually happen in the UK? There are places where there’s only one energy supplier, it falls over, you’re cut off? Apart from obscure areas that it’s only marginally economic to deliver energy in the first place.

    And since he seems to be obsessing about heating, wonder how much he understands about various heating systems, what they cost, how the supply gets to the consumer. I suspect his total knowledge is which switch turns the CE on in a modest end terrace in Ely. And possibly how to plug a fan heater in if someone’s fitted as plug for him.

  6. I’m surprised Ecks didn’t take Ritchie along with him to Hong Kong… You know, to negotiate the new 99 year lease the Chinese communists are so desperate for. Based on the above, it appears Ritchie is more than qualified to join him.

  7. I know a bunch of you are better at Latin than I am (I had a year in high school and a year in college), but here goes… The motto on Richard Murphy’s family crest:

    Omnes difficultates animo esse simplex est simplex.

    All problems are simple to the simple mind.

  8. “Does this actually happen in the UK? There are places where there’s only one energy supplier, it falls over, you’re cut off?”

    Not in the UK. If your supplier goes bust nobody comes around to your house, breaks in, and removes your supply fuse. If your supplier goes bust all that happens is there is nobody to send money to until a new supplier is put in place. The electrons keep moving.

    When I was a local councillor I had a couple of cases of suppliers ceasing to be suppliers, and then NEDL/TransCo adamantly refusing to acknowledge there was a 100A cable running into the property and refusing to authorise a new supplier start billing. Resulting in one old lady getting free leccy for nine years. She’s since died, the house has been sold, no idea what the new owners did about it.

  9. If there was a crisis he’d be downsizing (single man in a 4 bedroomed house) getting rid of his car and stopping flying. What’s he actually promised to do? yes I remember he’s going to have one less sausage in his breakfast fry up.

  10. “If your supplier goes bust nobody comes around to your house, breaks in, and removes your supply fuse”

    But if you have a Smart Meter they can turn your supply off remotely, and potentially, so could enterprising hackers…

  11. Dennis

    Shattered fragments of a classical education suggest “Omnes difficultates animo simplice simplices sunt”.

    Alternatively, “Pedicabo et irrumabo te, O Murphie”. (Best I can do for the vocative of He Who Should Not Be Named.)

  12. So, as I suspected,, the tuberous one is talking bollocks as usual. The worst that’s going to happen is you might have to change your direct debit. The best, you’re on free lekky for life.

    100A’s a lot, jgh. Sounds like 3 phase. Who was taking the other phases? Were they billed?

  13. when these companies fail people are left without energy suppliers when glaringly obviously the supply to their properties still exists

    When one fails Ofgem moves their customers to large energy companies

    The Ritchie – always wrong

  14. @bis

    100A not “a lot” if house has a 10.5kW (44A) shower + cooker, tumble dryer, heaters…

    In UK usually phase 1 goes to house 1, next door is on phase 2, next on phase 3.

    If you want to steal neighbour’s leccy you must put it on new circuit

  15. bloke in spain said:
    “Does this actually happen in the UK?”

    Nope, because ownership of the wires isn’t tied to the supply. There’s a split between the network operator (which is a regional monopoly) that supplies the wires, and your electricity supplier, which supplies or buys in the electricity that is delivered down the network operator’s wires.

    If the supplier goes bust, you’re still connected to the network, and the regulator will just switch you to a new middleman.

    There might be a problem if one of the big companies goes bust, if they’re a supplier and a regional network operator (I’ve a feeling they’re separate legal entities in the same group, to prevent that, but I can’t remember; it’s years since I did electricity regulation), but so far that’s nowhere near happening; it’s only small middleman suppliers that have gone bust.

  16. @Pcar
    I’ve put a lot of electricity supplies into homes. Seems a lot to me. Why I asked.
    Yes you can buy electric water heaters that heat ‘on demand’. I’ve seen very few of them. Few houses, as built, have 40A spare capacity kicking around. And you do need spare capacity for a thing like that. or someone goes to have a shower & puts all the lights out. We did put one in an office but we had to arrange to have the supply uprated to cope with it.
    “In UK usually phase 1 goes to house 1, next door is on phase 2, next on phase 3.

    If you want to steal neighbour’s leccy you must put it on new circuit”
    No. Houses are usually brought in as single phase. So you can’t steal anyone’s lekky unless you spike the cable before the supplier fuse. And then it’s the supplier’s & the discrepancy eventually shows up in the audit. It’s flats that come in as 3 phase & split in the property. Why I asked jgh what happened to the other two phases? Old lady implies legacy property. Older houses tended to have low supplies because they were built before the multiplication of domestic appliances. So at 100A I’m presuming flat.

  17. It is almost absurd that when we face a global heating crisis what is of concern in the UK energy market is the fate of small companies trying to make a buck out of a failed system of energy privatisation that has very largely led to consumer rip off, limited real energy supply transformation, and a system so lacking in co-ordination that it can be claimed that when these companies fail people are left without energy suppliers when glaringly obviously the supply to their properties still exists.

    Does anyone else actually understand that paragraph?

  18. Let global warming occur; voilà, no more need for heating.

    And if the crisis is so series that we need to reduce our so-called carbon footprint, the first thing to do is to cut off the electric supply to all the government institutions.

  19. BiS
    100A fuse to a domestic property is now standard, three phase only needed if over that.
    https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/electricity/fuse-upgrade
    “It’s common for older properties to have 30 or 60amp fuses. We can upgrade your fuse to 80 or 100amps. …
    Normally we try to upgrade to 100amps free of charge for most domestic properties, …
    100amp fuses are now standard in newer modern houses.”

  20. @djc

    “Normally we try to upgrade to 100amps free of charge for most domestic properties, …”

    That’s certainly a remarkable change of attitude.

  21. @bis

    Houses are usually brought in as single phase

    Which is what I said. One phase per house the phase repeating every three houses. 240v 60A single phase supply was standard mid 80s; it’s increased since then and now 100A or more for larger houses supply based on number of rooms. Our hotel in 70s had 3 phase with a single phase supply, via hotel, to free standing “The Stables” Pub (it had been coach house, not stables) – I was resident sparky

    8+ – 10+ kW showers are not unusual in UK flats/houses as until late 1990s only mains pressure outlets were kitchen, garden, elec shower and cold water tank; still is in many new builds
    https://www.mirashowers.co.uk/showers/electric-showers/products/?installation-type=performance

    Re stealing: go under floorboards and knock hole through, tap into ring main, replace bricks; or gain access to garage and pass cable through from behind a socket; or….

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