Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

How Glorious It Will Be When Jezza Runs All The Electricity Companies

We can – should even – test these claims of government competence to run the electricity companies by looking at their ability to run the ones they do run:

Jeremy Corbyn’s electricity supplier has sparked financial deadlock for the council behind it, amid mounting industry anger over state involvement in the energy market.

Robin Hood Energy, Britain’s first council-owned energy supplier, which counts the Labour leader as its most 
famous customer, has caused a delay of three months to the publication of Nottingham City Council’s accounts.

Officials have been unable to sign off on the books because they are waiting for information about Robin Hood, which has hit financial trouble. The company’s accountant, BDO, is yet to finish its audit.

The accounts for the council can’t be signed off because it’s not possible to work out how much Robin Hood Energy owes. Thus, how much the council might be liable for.

There is one but of the saga that is fair and true:

There is no hint of a profit, only losses. So much so that they’ve been collecting and then not passing on the renewables subsidies:

Robin Hood Energy, the energy supplier owned by Nottingham city council, has failed to pass on £9.5m in renewable energy subsidies after collecting them from customers through their bills.

The supplier has already claimed the sum from its customers, to be used to support renewable energy projects, but missed the deadline to pay its share of the money to the industry regulator, Ofgem last month.

They had to go borrow that from the council to avoid losing their licence:

He asked the Labour-run Nottingham City Council whether: “Following the reported injection of circa £9.5million the council had to provide to RHE, (would) it be prudent for the council to establish a resilience reserve to ease any unforeseen financial liabilities that may arise in respect of council-owned companies.

The diagnosis:

“But what I can say from deep, deep personal knowledge and experience, is that there’s a certain mindset of far-left municipal socialism that basically takes huge sums of public money and blows it on ventures to which they become politically attached.”

Seems fair. And guess what? We’re within 6 days of their being able to do that to the entire energy system of the country. What glories, eh?

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jgh
jgh
4 years ago

What’s so weird is that in the 19th and early 20th century municipal service provision actually worked – most towns owned their local gas, electricity, and water undertakings, and many also owned the trams, we had our own hospitals and health insurance scheme. I’ve just edited that sentence to change ‘ran’ to ‘owned’, which is probably the main difference. Socialist municipalisation want to *run* the stuff, mostly into the ground.

Gavin Longmuir
Gavin Longmuir
4 years ago
Reply to  jgh

Years ago, I had a conversation with an old guy who had started work for a local authority in Scotland during the Depression years. Apart from military service in WWII, he had spent his entire working life with local authorities. And he was upset and disgusted with the changes that he was seeing happen by the time he retired. In the 1930s, everyone who worked for the local authority was glad to have a job and wanted to make sure he performed well to keep it. The pay was not good, but employment was more secure than in the private… Read more »

Andrew Carey
Andrew Carey
4 years ago
Reply to  Gavin Longmuir

When East Coast rail line has been run by the Department of Transport the service wasn’t bad. Not exemplary like say Grand Central but certainly all right. I think you have a point that when the State starts running a service the culture is still that the customer matters, and the staff acknowledge that the punters pay their wages. Run the trial a couple of decades and the culture has changed – staff start realising that they are not accountable to their customers, that the system pays their wages, and they are hard to dismiss if they underperform. Localism matters… Read more »

john77
john77
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Carey

While the East Coast main line was nationalised it had the the second-worst rate of complaints of any franchise; when it was run by National Express it had one of the lowest rate of complaints. [Based on data from the official Offrail website].
I agree with most of your post – the railways were still very good in the early 50s when 90+% of the staff had been working for the pre-nationalisation private companies and still talked of themselves as LNER etc. By the late 80s/early 90s the treatment of passengers on my commuter service was appalling

jgh
jgh
4 years ago
Reply to  Gavin Longmuir

I think part of it is centralisation and distance from users. My grandmother’s uncle worked in the town council electricity supply department. Half the town knew where he lived, all his mates and family were “his” customers, he had an incentive to avoid his neighbours banging on the door complaining the leccy had gone off. Now, I have to speak to a lady in Bangalore to try and explain that I’ve phoned nPower five times to complain that they keep mixing up my and my neighbour’s meters, and would they PLEASE stop sending court summons to my neighbour because she… Read more »

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