Electricity prices are going up – that much you already know from your bills. You'd think the only option is to use less of the stuff....
Well, get used to the idea - they're going to continue to go up, and the less electricity everyone uses then the higher the prices are going to be.
Why is this ?
Some commentators blame energy price rises on the lack of new oil and gas reserves, the expense of their extraction, or political instability in the major producing regions.
However, the real reason is much simpler. Do you really think that the shareholders of these energy companies are going to suffer simply because you use less of their product, particularly when they feel they're forced to operate in a grossly distorted market ?
In a way, of course, they have a valid point...
Electricity cannot effectively be stored in large quantities and therefore energy on demand is provided by standby and swing capacity units, namely thermal power stations - those things that burn fossil fuels to keep the lights on come what may.
Forget the wind farms, when the wind doesn't blow the standby stations have to kick into action and make up the entire shortfall between demand and supply.
The trouble is, of course, that all of the fixed costs associated with maintaining and operating a 'big block' asset must still be met even if it's producing nothing at all for periods.
There's debt to be serviced, sustaining capital to keep the asset up to scratch, spare parts for equipment, maintenance costs and plant operators sitting around doing nothing at all but making themselves available 24 hours per day for when the big block needs to kick into action.
And all this against a backdrop of increasingly stringent and costly environmental, employment and health & safety legislation with which it's necessary for them to comply.