By David Derbyshire
Stop hiding green fuel tax, firms told as pressure to come clean on global warming levies intensifies
Power companies were under mounting pressure last night to come clean about the green ‘stealth levies’ secretly added to fuel bills – and tell customers exactly how much they are paying for Britain’s climate change revolution.
Consumer groups and MPs say energy suppliers should be forced to lay out on household bills how much customers are paying to subsidise green power and to end the UK’s dependence on coal, oil and gas.
The call for greater transparency follows claims that global warming policies are adding up to £200 a year to the electricity and gas bills of millions of cash-strapped families.
It has won the backing of a host of campaigners and consumer groups – including many that support the Government’s climate change policies.
Energy minister Charles Hendy said: ‘I would welcome more companies including cost breakdowns on bills.
‘Information is also currently available from Ofgem [the energy regulator], and last July the Government published the first Annual Energy Statement with breakdowns of projected impacts of individual energy policies on bills. We are committed to doing this every year.’
Dr Fiona Cochrane, energy expert at Which?, said: ‘The cost of energy remains consumers’ number one financial concern and it’s only right that they should be able to see what makes up their energy bill – from environmental levies to wholesale costs.’
Ann Robinson, of uSwitch, said: ‘We want to see more transparency on bills so we can understand what we are being charged for.
‘Transparency will also allow people to see how the wholesale cost of gas is changing and how those changes are passed on to consumers.’
The attack on hidden charges came days after Scottish Power, one of Britain’s biggest energy firms, announced a £200 hike in the average fuel bill.
Other companies are expected to follow suit in the next few weeks.
Dr Benny Peiser, director of the sceptical Global Warming Foundation, estimates that hidden climate change costs make up 15 to 20 per cent of the typical household fuel bill of £1,000.
None of these extra charges is a conventional tax paid to the Treasury directly.
Instead, they are additional costs passed on by power companies to pay for compulsory green policies to encourage wind farms, provide grants for home insulation and promote domestic solar panels.
Bills are also inflated by the European Emissions Trading Scheme, a scandal-hit policy that tries to limit carbon emissions from power companies and heavy industry.
Dr Peiser said: ‘People are having to pay more and more for climate change policies – but you won’t find any mention of them on most bills.
‘That suits the Government because if politicians had to raise money for wind farms and other green policies by taxation, it would be incredibly unpopular.’
The call for greater transparency came as Lord Turnbull, the former head of the Civil Service, demanded that politicians ‘stop frightening us and our children’ about the threat of global warming.
In an unprecedented attack he blasted the Conservative Party for its ‘uncritical adoption’ of the green agenda.