Energy Companies Call For An End To Green Energy “Stealth Taxes”
About £2 billion was wiped off the value of two of Britain’s biggest energy companies yesterday, as the City woke up to the full impact of Ed Miliband’s plan to freeze bills.
Shares in Centrica and SSE, the country’s largest two remaining independent energy companies, slumped by more than 5 per cent, their biggest one-day falls in more than three years.
Energy bosses broke cover to go on the offensive against the Labour leader, calling for an end to the green energy “stealth taxes” that they blame for rocketing bills. They said that expensive subsidies for wind farms and household energy-efficiency programmes should be funded from general taxation rather than levies on consumers.
Having privately complained for years that the industry has been forced to act as a tax collector, it is the first time that executives have called publicly for the Government to fund its green energy programmes itself. With Mr Miliband pointing the finger at energy companies’ profits, their intervention will further inflame the row over who is to blame for record bills.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, hit out at politicians who “conveniently forget to mention” the cost of the subsidies they have introduced to consumers. Stripping out green taxes from bills would save households £100, almost the £120 Mr Miliband claims that his price freeze would temporarily lop off bills, he said.
“If Labour removed these stealth taxes from bills and paid for them through taxation, not only would it reduce bills, it would have the progressive effect of shifting the burden of paying from those who can’t afford to pay to those who can,” he said.
Tony Cocker, chief executive of the German-owned rival E.ON, called on politicians to acknowledge that their policies had driven up bills, writing that “customers deserve honesty”. In a letter addressed “Dear Ed”, he added: “You could remove a large cost from energy bills simply by moving these costs to general taxation.” While Mr Miliband was Energy Secretary, the cost of levies shot up. Going back further, between 2007 and 2012, the annual cost to consumers on an average dual bill of these green taxes more than tripled from £33 to £112.