LIVE: Greenpeace activists shut down Centrica HQ

Posted by petespeller — 30 April 2012 at 7:09am - Comments
Giant energy bill outside Centrica offices
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace
Is your energy bill as big as this?

This morning 50 Greenpeace volunteers shut down the head office of British Gas owners Centrica using the world's biggest energy bill.

We're there to tell Centrica to end its dangerous addiction to expensive and polluting fossil fuels. It is time to get off the gas price rollercoaster and start investing in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency to bring bills under control and tackle climate change.

Take action now to tell Centrica to end the energy rip-off!

Follow the live updates here or join the conversation using #energybills

Lots of these comments originating from Centrica's office in Staines, but that's fine it's good to have the conversation.

A report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed how Centrica have built the least renewable energy generating capacity, and invested the least of all the Big Six. Instead of investing in Britain’s energy future, or delivering lower bills for its customers, they have simply taken the money.

If Centrica instead invested in clean, cutting-edge renewable energy and energy efficiency, they would help to both bring household bills under control and to tackle climate change.

But they have the least clean energy capacity of any of the big energy utilities.

Gas is to blame for our rocketing household bills. The average energy bill has risen by £150 in the last year, and £100 of that is due solely to the soaring price of gas.

Building clean, renewable energy will protect us from gas price spikes and bring bills under control. And building renewable energy projects here would mean more jobs, a reduced trade deficit and economic growth.

You can download the report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance here

Thanks Pete, the Bloomberg report makes interesting, if depressing, reading. We just don't invest enough and Centrica languishes behind the poor performance of its main competitors. Sorry guys, owning a Nuclear fleet seems to me to be missing the point.

Their corporate responsibility aim is to build stakeholder trust; their directors' rewards are based on delivering value to shareholders (source: their website). Perhaps that mis-match is one of the problems?

They are simply not doing enough, when you consider how the bills have increased.  Surely if all the price hike was down to them investing in renewables their investers would not make a 74% profit!! While the rest of us are losing jobs, our pay is not increasing and everything is increasing including ENERGY BILLS!! IS THIS FAIR????????? 

“One of the reasons energy bills are so high is the increased money spent on green energy”

Data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and energy regulator Ofgem shows that over the last year bills have risen by £100 due to the higher wholesale cost of gas.

In 2011 DECC figures show renewable subsidies added £17 to the average bill.

“Centrica is one of the largest investors in Europe in renewable energy”

Centrica isn’t even one of the largest investors in renewable energy in the UK.

The most recent data – compiled byBloomberg New Energy Finance found that between 2007-11 Centrica had installed less renewable energy than any of the rest of the big six.

Instead it returned 74% of profits to shareholders – more than any of its rivals.

They have also shut down is where the centrica renewables team is based”

It takes years to build an offshore wind farm.

Given Centrica’s dire record on renewables investment, one day spent waking up Centrica’s management ofthe need to invest more in their renewable projects it will be a day well spent.

Centrica “owns a large stake in UK Nuclear and has the lowest carbon footprint of all the big six energy suppliers”

Centrica’s low carbon generation comes from its ownership of some of the UK’s ageing nuclear plants but even Centrica doesn’t think Nuclear is a good investment for the future and recently told the Financial Times it was considering pulling out of its planned joint venture at Hinkley point.

Perhaps the government should come up with some serious proposals!  We have solarePV panels on our roof and solar water heating, its great, we have virtually no gas bills in the summer,and most of our electricity we use is produced and the rest is sent to the grid.  The thing is not everyone can afford them, they should be built as standard on all new houses. 

This makes sense enviornmentally and financially.  Also for all those sceptices that dont think Climate change is happening, it would make a cleaner more pleasant world!


We’ve basically got a three pronged challenge ahead of us. How do we minimise the rise of fuel bills whilst doing our bit to tackle climate and ensuring we’ve got secure supplies of energy for the future?

Centrica seem to be wedded to future heavily reliant on gas, on the basis that gas plants are cheap and quick to build. But the fuel isn’t free, and as both analysis for OFGEM, and research by the Committee on Climate Change, has highlighted, it’s the volatility of the international price of gas that is the main reason why bills have been spiralling out of control recently. The IEA and OFGEM both project that gas prices will likely continue to rise in coming years. It’s crucial then that we reduce the extent to which the UK bill payer is exposed to the roulette of the international gas market so that we can stabilise the cost of energy. Building homegrown renewables and investing in efficiency helps to reduce this reliance on an unpredictable international market. It also helps us take the carbon out of our energy system, generate new, much needed jobs and provide secure energy at a cost that is predictable.

With that in mind, we think that Centrica should take the following three steps:

Step 1:

Publicly declare its support for the recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that the UK should have almost completely decarbonised our electricity sector by 2030.

Step 2:

Declare its support for a regulatory limit on carbon emissions from power stations – known as an emissions performance standard – that is in line with the with recommendation of the CCC that we should decarbonise the power sector by 2030, and that standard should apply to all polluting fossil fuel power stations, not just coal ones.

Step 3:

Support an outcome from this year’s Electricity Market Reform process that prioritises support for renewables and energy efficiency measures that can bring get bills under control and bring down pollution levels.

@tinkerbelle I think you'll find Pete isn't one of the activists at the action - hence him being able to respond to you on the website. As a Greenpeace activist myself I can assure you none of us get paid to take part in non-violent direct actions. However every organisation needs staff to make it run and since I'm assuming Greenpeace is against slavery they do pay those people.

@adamwalker Putting "fact" next to something doesn't make it true.

Well done to all the Greenpeace activists making a stand today for what they believe in. People thought Gandhi was anoying once too! You're tomorrow's heros!

Thank you to everyone who has posted comments, it's great to see discussion around this issue. We have sent a response to Centrica which you can read here

Peter - Firstly, thanks for engaging in the debate, we're really pleased that this subject has got people talking about energy.

To address your specific concerns, the reason for the recent bill hikes is the over reliance by energy companies such as Centrica on expensive, imported gas. Ofgem analysis has shown that of the average dual-fuel bill increase of £150 between March 2011 and March 2012, £100 is due to the volatile price of gas.

Energy bills are going to go up, whatever happens, however gas is set to become even more expensive, Sam Laidlaw stated as much in The Guardian, whilst the cost of renewable energy is set to come down. Combined with increased energy efficiency measures to reduce overall demand for energy, renewables can stablise bills and provide a clean, affordable energy future. A future tied to gas would see all the risk of volatile and rising gas prices pushing up bills passed to bill payers and would simply delay the costs of necessary investment in alternative energy sources.

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