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Labour unveils National Grid takeover plan - your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by SDK^, May 16, 2019.

  1. The_Abyss

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 15, 2007

    Posts: 11,643

    Location: Ipswich / Bodham

    Indeed. And, I seem to be broadly in the same boat as you in that I don't really care either way. The purposes of my posts about pensions were purely to preemptively bust the myths that will inevitably be trotted out about pensions, without taking one side of the other.
     
  2. Tony Edwards

    Mobster

    Joined: Feb 4, 2018

    Posts: 3,107

    I may have misunderstood you. From those articles it would appear that they need to be taken back into public hands. Which Im all for.
     
  3. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    We know, you don't care about reality or the facts, the only thing that matters is ideology...

    Personally, I don't care about the ownership structure so much as the quality, cost of service, and most importantly the ability to change provider if I'm not happy with the first two.
     
  4. Tony Edwards

    Mobster

    Joined: Feb 4, 2018

    Posts: 3,107

    With water? Good luck with that.
     
  5. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    Water is about collection, purification and delivery of fresh water, and removal and processing of waste.

    In a metered world, there is no reason why a common delivery network could not be coupled with a multi-provider supplier and processor setup managing common standards in a price competitive environment.

    The problem with water privatisation as the uk did it was that it turned poorly run, state owned monopoly providers into poorly run, privately owned monopoly providers. The issue wasn't the ownership structure.
     
  6. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 5,923

    Interesting decision by Labour. The National Grid, gas and electricity, is already a monopoly and heavily regulated I don’t see how this changes very much. The more interesting bit is nationalisation of the distribution systems. This is the local bit with many different companies and actually where most of the transmission cost comes from. There is some operational efficiencies possible if you are aiming for a highly decentralised system of generation in having one monopoly distribution company. Commonality of standards, decision making processes and policy could make a highly decentralised low carbon generation policy easier.

    Personally I think highly centralised generation is an easier technical solution with greater resilience os supply at lower cost. For which a monopoly generator would be much more useful than a monopoly transmission/distribution system.

    The current generation market is a corporatist buggers muddles that suffers from excessive political interference. It is absolutely not how any rational person would choose to run the system and is the outcome of 20+ years of incompetent political interference.

    The big risk of monopoly in energy is the power of the unions to hold the country to ransom. The largest single benefit of privatisation was to utterly neuter this as a threat. The second was a reduction in workforce where probably a third of the pre-privatisation workforce were unnecessary. To suggest that the current generation system is more efficient than the nationalised system it replaced ignores the golden dividend in infrastructure we’ve been living off for 30 years. Most of the modern plant is crap compared to what the CEGB built. We also have a less resilient less well engineered system with no rational long term plan that has been cut and cut and cut to the point that good practice in engineering is almost missing.
     
  7. singularity

    Perma Banned

    Joined: Apr 2, 2007

    Posts: 1,038

    It's not a decision by labour, they would promise you chocolate fairies and ice cream if they thought it would get them one more vote.
     
  8. SPG

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 28, 2010

    Posts: 5,478

    It changes everything due to the failed ideology of Tory policy over the past 30 years. The utter abject failure of regulators to have teeth simply down to them all being best mates in the background.

    It is time for change, I do not want to live in the 52nd state of America which is all the Tory party want. Keep themselves Rich at all cost and screw everyone else.
     
  9. singularity

    Perma Banned

    Joined: Apr 2, 2007

    Posts: 1,038

    I completely agree, its time for change, but it has been for 40 years, labour ain't going to change anything.
    It sad that young people don't recognize that older people have see4it all before, several times. What we need is real change, labour will never deliver that.
     
  10. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 5,923

    Sorry what has that got to do with Labours policy on renationalisation of the transmission/distribution system?
     
  11. ricid

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2018

    Posts: 349

    I'm not too bothered, mostly due to ignorance.
    Public transport - absolutely - the fact I need to buy tickets from 3 different operators to get across town and it costs more than driving is insane.
    Behind the scenes infrastructure? I'm happy to leave the decision about that to people who know better.
    Could be convinced either way, but feels like it might be a bit of a hard sell to properly argue it in an election. I don't care and I like both socialism and technical things.
     
  12. danlightbulb

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 14, 2005

    Posts: 2,127

    I work in the water industry.

    Not only will labour's plan require a huge upfront expenditure (and yes they do plan to claim back various 'consessions' and windfall profits that have occurred over the years to reduce the purchase price), but the ongoing investment programme that the water industry is doing is not much below what the entire national schools budget is. There is a real risk of future underinvestment if in public ownership.

    The average water bill is £1 a day. 90% of this is wholesale costs, so running and maintaining the network. c. 10% is retail costs, billing, meter reading, customer service. If competition was introduced to the domestic market, wholesale costs dont change you can potentially save some of the retail costs. However existing water company retail functions are very efficient, serving a large number of customers and having been subject to regulator efficiency challenges for 3 decades now. New commercial entrants would struggle to make a profit on the retail side of water and customers would be lucky to save a few percent on their bill. Is it worth switching provider for 3p a day? How many people still dont switch energy provider where the savings are much greater.

    The business market (again retail side not wholesale side) has been open to competition for a couple years now. New entrants are struggling to offer price cuts from the already low water company tariffs, so the regulator is allowing tariffs to rise for those who havent switched yet simply to generate more switching. How perverse is that! Would you want that in domestic?

    There is already some competition within the wholesale side of water. Not only are network operations and investment projects heavily contested through competitive tendering for these contracts, but also some aspects of main laying are open to competition. Most new housing developments use 3rd party companies to lay mains. 3rd parties can also sell raw water to water companies although this is frought with complexity and so I dont think has actually happened yet in the country.

    Id also like to mention vulnerable customer support. Over the past few years water companies have hugely increased the support available to vulnerable customers, introducing discounted tariffs, priority services registers and other types of scheme. Most here probably dont have need for these schemes but they are a huge benefit to those who do need them. It is a bit of a crossover into welfare, so if in public hands would you trust these types of scheme to continue to be well run and accessible given the fiascos with benefits and universal credit?

    The biggest gripe that people have with water conpanies is percieved profits and tax avoidance. There have been instances in the past where some companies (not all) have set up offshore tax schemes or had windfall profits for example benefitting from higher inflation (inflation and allowed revenue are directly linked in water company licences). What tends to happen is the regulator corrects for these at price reviews which are every 5 years. At recent price reviews, allowed returns are strongly challenged and penalty incentive schemes for levels of service are in place. Service levels in water for many important measures such as water quality or interuptions are close to perfect. Other services levels such as leakage have room for further improvement. Water companies have invested heavily in local environmental improvements over decades.

    As you can tell Im pro water. The key thing for me is that the regulator already pushes so much efficiency challenge into companies that there is little room for bills to come down further given the investment levels. Allowing water companies a few percent profit is a fair exchange for what good overall service they give. There are huge risks to this service if its in government ownership.
     
  13. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    Public transport being poor and expensive isn't generally a result of privatisation, but a result of inappropriate mass transit in areas that don't really justify it but required by regulators, with the costs spread about the rest of the routes. It wouldn't change under nationalisation unless you are arguing for subsidy that forces people who don't use the service to pay for it to make your journey appear cheaper.

    The multiple providers issue should be easily solvable of there was desire, either through better use of contactless (see how tfl use contactless, it's brilliant) or through other forms of ticketing modernisation.
     
  14. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    The problem is the pro-nationalisation of everything people tend to behave like conspiracy theorists in debates, they make a lot of noise and a lot of claims with either no evidence to support at all, or with highly selective and misrepresented data that appears superficially to back up their position but falls at anything more than a cursory glance.

    When the facts of the uk industries pre and post privatisation are pointed out, along with international comparisons etc to show that their perceptions and beliefs may be sincerely held, but are wrong, they then start with the 'well, you would say that, you must be in on it' defence beloved of those unable to defend their argument legitimately.

    Some of the posts in this thread are classic examples.
     
  15. ricid

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2018

    Posts: 349

    I'd absolutely argue for a central subsidy as public transport use benefits everyone through reduced pollution / congestion as well as providing an essential service for those unable to drive.

    My taxes resurfaced roads for years when I walked everywhere, but that's fine as I still indirectly benefited from functioning roads.
     
  16. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    The thing with public transport is that the benefits, even environmental ones, are highly situational. A full bus or train is almost certainly better than a private car pollution wise, the same bus with two people on it is massively more polluting than those same two people in a car, or even two cars.

    For many rural areas, and even minor towns and cities, subsiding hybrid or electric cars is likely to achieve more environmentally than subsiding public transport.
     
  17. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    Double post
     
  18. ricid

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2018

    Posts: 349

    I don't think it needs to be either/or, they're complimentary solutions. If there's really only two people using a route it could be fulfilled using a large car rather than a bus, presumably companies would already do this if demand was actually that low. There's also the issue of how to provide for the elderly / people with disabilities who may not be able to drive - if all those rural routes disappear, how do they get around? Free bus passes aren't easy to replace - funding taxi travel for an aging population could get pricey.
     
  19. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 46,967

    Location: Plymouth

    I don't disagree that it all has a place, I disagree with subsidising a method, rather than a situation.

    If we want to subsidise people living in rural areas for travel, we should do so, probably via some form of voucher system or similar, so that services form around passengers, rather than passengers being forced to conform to services.

    This also has the advantage of not discriminating against people in identical situations for no valid reason.
     
  20. ricid

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2018

    Posts: 349

    I agree with you, but I suspect making a system like that work in practice would be hard. It'd probably end being gamed by existing large providers rather than allowing services to form, and it also runs the risk of those who's needs are unprofitable being left out. An individual with a voucher isn't going to cause anything to spring up. I don't work in transport though so I'm no expert, maybe this sort of thing has been successfully implemented elsewhere?

    It does feel a bit as though if the market was going to create a cost effective, joined up public transport system that would have happened by now. I'm not dogmatically attached to nationalisation as an idea, but it feels like something definitely needs to shift if we're not just going to accept ever increasing traffic / pollution as a fact of life.