Political nerds like me are fascinated with Dominic Cummings. So interested, in fact, that I pay him a monthly fee to read his excellent newsletter. I know: I have just lost a chunk of my audience at that announcement. (You can sign up here. Previously, I blogged about Cummings here.)
In a recent lengthy post, Cummings writes:
“If you will live in the UK over the next 6 months take steps to ensure you and your family can cope with a 4 week major disruption — e.g a cascade of logistics and energy failures. The only safe assumption is that the true situation is much worse than the media are telling you. This was true in spring 2020 and autumn 2020. It’s true now. Making some basic preparations is extremely low downside and extremely high upside. Keep in mind, some of the people I know who were most right most early on covid and other things have bought generators they can plug into their homes…”
In a more sensible media landscape, the suggestion from someone as senior as Cummings that we should consider purchasing a generator would be a major headline. But the media landscape is warped, fixated on personalities and trivialities.
Cummings is in good company, for Goldman Sachs has warned of a “non-negligible risk” of power outages, too.
With a number of energy providers having gone under in the last few weeks and with 12m people soon to get a whopping 12% hike to their energy bills, we should examine the reasons why, which, according to Deloitte, are:
- Natural gas prices have quadrupled over the past six months.
- Gas provides the UK with 40% of electricity production and 80% of the heating of homes.
- There is ongoing maintenance work in the North Sea.
- Wind speeds are low.
- Droughts have reduced hydropower.
- Unlike in Europe with their 20-30% storage facilities for gas, we stand at only 2%: there is no wriggle room.
- Fixed-rate tariffs and price caps don’t easily allow price increases to be passed onto consumers.
And we haven’t opened a nuclear power station since 1995. If Norway and Russia don’t increase supply, and if we have a cold winter with low wind speeds, we are in serious trouble, according to the experts.
Risk-assessing this situation, buying a generator – and the fuel if you can get any! – is a sensible course of action. If Reckless Boris says that there is nothing to worry about, then there is everything to worry about.
Think clearly, folks.