UK Energy Regulator Caught Covering Up Green Scandals

ABINGDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: A workman cleans panels at Landmead solar farm on July 29, 2015 near Abingdon, England. The 46 megawatt capacity installation was the largest in the United Kingdom when it was completed in 2014. Operated by BELECTRIC UK it supplies around 45 million kWh (kilowatt hours) …
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

Ofgem — the UK government regulator responsible for energy — has been caught covering up two major scandals in the ‘low carbon’ energy industry.

The cost of these scandals — involving smart meters and the renewable heat incentive (RHI) — may run into the tens of billions of pounds.

But rather than protect the consumer, which is supposedly its job, Ofgem has taken the side of the vested interests profiting from these industries. It has done this by using draconian gagging orders to silence two whistleblowers who had wanted to expose the scandals.

Ironically, the story was broken in The Guardian — a newspaper which has long been committed to supporting the corruption- and incompetence-riddled green industry that the whistleblowers were hoping to expose.

One of the whistleblowers told the Guardian he was “continually threatened … for trying to tell the truth. For doing my job and uncovering an issue, Ofgem made my life hell.”

He said the regulator had attempted to “scare me witless with threats of imprisonment” and he felt “utterly ashamed” of Ofgem’s behaviour.

Ofgem said it encouraged staff to report suspected wrongdoing and took their concerns seriously.

Both men worked for Ofgem in entirely different areas of the business and were regarded as qualified experts in their respected fields.

One was Greg Pytel, an economist with oversight of the rollout of the £10.9bn smart meter programme, which is due to be completed in 2020.

Smart meters are electronic devices for homes and businesses that measure the use of electricity and gas. They are designed to make billing easier and to help energy companies manage the supply of electricity more efficiently.

The second whistleblower, who has asked to remain anonymous, worked on the renewable heat incentive (RHI), which offers financial rewards to promote the use of new technologies such as green boilers.

The scheme, which started in 2011, has been controversial – and could eventually cost taxpayers £23bn. Both projects are key to the government’s stated aim of making the UK a low-carbon economy.

So that’s industries worth a total in excess of £30 billion, neither of which would exist were it not for government regulation. There is no demand whatsoever for smart meters — the public is rightly suspicious of them and the take-up, despite copious government propaganda hailing their merits, has been risibly small. As for the renewable heat incentive — this was a madcap scheme, introduced by David Cameron’s feeble coalition government, where businesses were paid large sums of money to heat their boilers with wood instead of coal or gas. This money-for-old-rope scheme was widely abused, especially in Northern Ireland where it effectively bankrupted the government.

As The Times reported at the time:

Flaws in the scheme were exposed by a whistleblower who said businesses were buying biomass boilers solely to collect the subsidy. The whistleblower alleged that one farmer expected to make £1 million over 20 years for using a biomass boiler to heat an empty shed, while heating a number of empty factories would net their owner £1.5 million.

Northern Ireland’s auditor-general, Kieran Donnelly, says the RHI had “serious systemic weaknesses from the start” because it did not have the built-in spending controls imposed on a similar scheme in Great Britain. He added that the scheme was vulnerable to abuse and possible fraud.

Perhaps the even bigger scandal here, though, is the behaviour of Ofgem (which stands for Office of Gas and Electricity Markets). It’s a non-ministerial government department.

Here is its remit:

Its primary duty is to protect the interests of consumers, where possible by promoting competition. The Authority‘s main objective is to protect existing and future consumers’ interests in relation to gas conveyed through pipes and electricity conveyed by distribution or transmission systems.

So what, exactly, is it doing acting so flagrantly against the interests of consumers by helping to cover up incompetence and corruption which will undoubtedly cost them millions if not billions of pounds?

Simple. Ofgem’s higher loyalties are to the government and to its determination to force through its renewable energy agenda at whatever cost.

As I’ve argued before, green energy is a charter for crooks and liars. Corruption and mismanagement and extravagant waste are not bugs of the renewable energy industry but features. But the environmentalist zealots who infest Ofgem and similar government departments do not wish us to know this, therefore they lie and distort and cover up. It really is that simple. And that depressing.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.