Shifting away from a profit driven big
business model for energy supply could
move us towards a system geared at efficient
energy use rather than shareholder value
– which would benefit all of us,
and the planet, UNISON's Willie Docherty
told the STUC.
He was backing a North Lanarkshire TUC
motion calling for public ownership of
the big six energy companies due to "successive
governments' failure to control them."
Wllie said UNISON was supporting the
motion but that didn't mean the union
doesn't have a few problems with it.
The way this motion was written points
to one of the 'real problems with the
way our energy system works'.
"There is a complete lack of transparency
in the energy market – it makes
accusations of their being a cartel very
easy to make... but almost impossible
to prove or disprove", said Willie.
"The House of Commons Energy Select
Committee hit the nail on the head in
a recent report as they said; 'Despite
huge turnovers, and in some cases large
profits, the six largest energy companies
have made significantly different levels
of profit and loss between the supply
and generation parts of their business.'
The actual level of profit in, for example,
the energy supply arm is therefore difficult
"Greater transparency is urgently
needed to reassure consumers that high
energy prices are not fuelling excessive
profits", said Willie.
He slammed Ofgem for falling down on the
job of regulation the companies.
"There have been some welcome proposals
from the labour party about reviewing
the operation of the energy market, enforcing
transparency and replacing Ofgem with
a body they say will do the job properly,
which are a start.
"The Scottish government meanwhile
really don’t have much to say about
the UK energy market except that they
want to be part of it. Really Congress
they need to do better and we should be
putting pressure on them on this issue",
"We should, as this motion calls
for, be looking at public ownership of
energy. But in doing so we should show
a degree of imagination and willingness
to learn from others", said Willie
as he pointed to locally owned coops like
in Germany or even local government involvement
as happens across Europe.