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The energy bill: hit or miss?

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There’s a sound sentiment behind last month’s energy bill: to “establish a legislative framework for delivering secure, affordable and low-carbon energy”. But will the bill deliver on its aspirations? Good Energy’s Ed Gill finds out.

Renewable energy sourced in the UK is better for our energy security and will lead to lower and more stable prices in the long run, and mean that money spent on our energy bills is reinvested here in the UK.

The energy bill aims to drive investment towards renewable energy in order to deliver that, which is obviously a good thing. But unfortunately, it’s not quite there yet for a number of reasons.

The main source of contention is the decision to introduce ‘contracts for difference’ (CfD). These over-complicated mechanisms aim to guarantee generators a price for generating electricity from nuclear and renewable sources, but in reality are so complex they will introduce a new range of risks which could put off investors.

Even if they do work, they are likely to skew the market towards bigger energy suppliers, because they will be the only ones with the resources available to manage them.

The government is missing a trick here, particularly since it suggested in its original proposals that a straightforward top-up payment system could actually do the job just as well.

Instead of bolting on new, overly-complex bits to the existing market, we should be getting to grips with the problems that leave so many bill-payers angry and frustrated with our energy market. We should be making energy policy as simple and transparent as possible.

This should create a new wave of competition through a more decentralised energy market that helps keep energy bills down whilst giving people greater control over the energy they use. Ditching CfD and moving to a top-up payment system could deliver this.

The problem is that whilst the political commitment from energy ministers is there, the reforms reveal a startling lack of ambition from the officials designing the detail of the policy. There is nothing in the wider reform package about how we need a far more flexible, dynamic and decentralised energy market to meet the challenges we face.

Most in the renewables industry have been saying we need these things for some time, and even the traditional ‘big six’ suppliers are happy to admit it’s the way forward.

The sad thing is that this bill was only ever about trying to do just enough. In doing so, officials risk missing a huge opportunity to reform our market for the better.

So there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done to ensure the bill delivers on its aspirations. If the government does press ahead with CfD, then it has to look towards simplifying the model.

As our campaign partners, Friends of the Earth, have said: “The government needs to stop obsessing over a way to make the sums for nuclear power add up, stop our homes leaking heat and switch the country from dirty gas to clean British energy from wind, sun and water to help hard-pressed households with their bills.”

It needn’t be complicated. By taking the right steps to help people to generate their own renewable electricity, encourage competition in the market and ensure price stability for generators, we’ll move towards energy security and independence here in the UK.

Ed Gill is head of external affairs at Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier.

Further reading:

Energy bill claims to ensure “secure, clean and affordable electricity”

Industry reacts to energy bill draft

Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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Features

How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands

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Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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