Sweeping up after bad energy policy


Can Mary Poppins be far behind? In London, the hottest job opportunity around this winter is that of chimney sweep. And that’s not about nostalgia — it’s about bad energy policy.

“Thousands of Brits are dusting out their fireplaces in response to soaring energy prices creating an unexpected boom in chimney sweeps,” the London Telegraph reports. “Recent energy price hikes have added 10 percent to 15 percent to gas and electricity bills across the country and a furious British public has reacted by switching off radiators, calling in the chimney sweeps, and stoking up the wood fires.”

The workload is Dickensian.

“Kyran Ryan has been sweeping chimneys in the Coventry area for seven years,” the Telegraph says. “The last year has seen the largest single rise in call-outs of his career. ‘Every time the gas bill goes up, demand goes up,’ he said. ‘I’m working 12-13 hours a day at the moment. I don’t physically have time to fit all the customers in.’ He’s not the only sweep to be inundated with work. Nelson Draper, founder of Drapers Chimney Sweeps says that business is up more than 12 percent this winter.”

The national trade association for chimney sweeps (we’re pretty sure singing and dancing take place at their meetings) reports that the business is seeing a boom not experienced since Victorian times.

There’s a reason.

“Why are the energy prices so high?” asks the Cato Institute’s Marian Tupy. “The British government’s pathological obsession with renewable sources of energy. Converting renewable energy (e.g., wind and solar) is much more expensive than conventional sources of energy (e.g., coal and gas). Since the government mandates that a certain percentage of energy consumption has to consist of renewable sources, energy prices are rising — fast.”

The Reuters news agency reports that many homes will face shortages in that nation.

“Up to 3 million British households will be in fuel poverty in 2016, a government-commissioned report forecast on Thursday, showing that UK’s goal of eradicating fuel poverty by then could be at risk,” Reuters explains. “Professor John Hills at the London School of Economics calculated that 2.6 million to 3 million households will be fuel poor in four years’ time, meaning the money they have left after paying energy bills will leave them below the official poverty line.”

What begins as “encouragement” for renewable fuels inevitably leads to penalization of fossil fuels. Incentives for green technology always come at the expense of carbon taxes, in one form or another.

The thing is, Britain isn’t fuel-poor. There are abundant shale gas reserves in the country (not to mention North Sea oil). But Britain rejects “fracking” and instead clings to unrealistic “renewable” mandates.

The result is Britain could see natural gas rationing, something it didn’t even experience in World War II.

And for the British people? It’s back to burning wood and coal in those fireplaces. That’s bad news for the climate change true believers, but good news for the chimney sweeps.

Still, science has proven that good luck does, indeed, rub off when he shakes ‘ands with you.

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