I heard it said this week that the utility companies are fast replacing the banks as the number one in the chart of most disdained. Thames Water was stopped in their tracks by the water regulator Ofwat, preventing them from passing a rise in charges to customers by 8%. However, Ofgem, who claim on their website that they make ‘a positive difference for energy consumers’ remain as useless as a chocolate teapot as the energy companies remain free to raise their charges by outrageous amounts. The UK inflation rate for both August and September 2013 remained at around 2.7%, yet Npower have seen fit to increase their prices by around 10.4%, British Gas by 9.2%, Scottish Power by 8.6%, SSE by 8.2%, and even the Utility Warehouse are planning an increase of 6.9% by January 2014. No number of parliamentary select committee grilling can alter the fact that everyone, even the government, is powerless to prevent the profit driven march of these businesses as the UK braces itself for an onslaught of indefensible charges. The best advice so far is to switch provider, yet even if you do you would still be paying as much as 4 times over the rate of inflation, which would be fine if wages, salaries and pensions were to increase in equal amounts: but this is living in a dreamland. I’ve been told by my supplier to wash my ‘laundry’ at 40c instead of 60c, and to fill the kettle with only enough water as required. It was like reading the instructions on the back of a ‘state of emergency’ leaflet that one may receive during a time of 20th century war. Well, here we are coming to the end of 2013, and I’ve yet to see any personal benefit from so called ‘renewable’ energy. Indeed, it was recently reported that a wind turbine that cost the Welsh government £48,000 to buy has been generating an average of £5 worth of electricity per month. Oops.