Are Sainsbury’s mis-selling energy?


I was stopped in the bread aisle today by a nice lady who wanted me to switch my energy sup­ply to Sainsbury’s. It’s a com­mon thing in the UK and the energy com­pan­ies are col­lect­ively known for the eth­ical stand­ards they employ when selling their energy plans. It’s not a sur­prise so many of them spon­sor weather bul­let­ins — “Today’s weather is brought to you in asso­ci­ation with Happy Energy, because we’re a shower of bastards.”

What’s inter­est­ing is the sales pitch that you get as you try and find a loaf. My energy sup­plier was recom­men­ded by Greenpeace. Generally that’s enough to per­suade sales people from wast­ing my time. It’s grow­ing less effect­ive. I demurred say­ing that I didn’t want to sign any­thing because I was con­cerned that there was going to be a push for nuc­lear power and I’m not con­vinced it’s a good thing. Sainsbury’s, she assured me, had noth­ing to do with nuc­lear power. Sainsbury’s even sold a Green Energy plan.

Sainsbury’s don’t actu­ally have their own power sta­tions, they re-sell and right now they’re reselling for EDF. What was the news when I got home? French energy giant EDF has already said it plans to build four nuc­lear plants in the UK by 2017, without sub­sidies, fol­low­ing the government’s announce­ment. BBC News.

Nuclear power itself is not neces­sar­ily a deal killer for me, but being misled about it is. I’m also doubt­ful about the green nature of Sainsbury’s power. I’m sure they want to invest in renew­able resources, but what is a renew­able resource? Ask Lord Sainsbury. Lady O’Cathain offered me the oppor­tun­ity of … agree­ing that nuc­lear is a renew­able source of energy — it clearly is so. The Times.

So was the nice lady mis-selling Sainsbury’s energy, or do they have a con­tract with EDF that the elec­trons they sell are driven by non-nuclear power?

Egad! It’s the Times Higher Education Supplement


…or as it’s now named Times Higher Education. If you’re look­ing for the re-launched THES the you may find it’s moved loc­a­tion in the paper shop. Rather than being stuffed next to the TES and TLS, I found it next to New Scientist, BBC History magazine and those strange magazines with head­lines like “Inside the Asian Tiger” which are full of pic­tures of sky­scrapers instead of big cats. It’s re-sized with a shi­nier cover but they’ve kept the ink which sticks to your fin­gers if you hold it. My atti­tude to the shift from paper to magazine is neut­ral — it’s still a good read. The web­site how­ever is much better.

There’s usu­ally some­thing to com­ment on in the THES THE. The prob­lem has been that the web­site has been emphat­ic­ally sub­scrip­tion only which makes link­ing to it a bit point­less. Reproducing the basic story would also be a chore, as well as bad thing to do from a copy­right per­spect­ive. That’s changed.

From the week the news stor­ies and archives of THES/THE are open. This means I can link to cur­rent stor­ies like the ongo­ing prob­lems with the RAE as well as the really good opin­ion pieces which are pub­lished, like Susan Bassnett’s Shrinking Volumes. I can also link to the book reviews. Simon Goldhill’s review of James Davidson’s latest book is a must read if you have an interest in Greek sex, which com­ple­ments Tony Keen’s com­ments about the book on his web­log. With the archive being open too there’s the oppor­tun­ity to revisit some older argu­ments. As an example here’s a book review I might be inter­ested in.

At a stroke I think THE has become a lot more use­ful. Free access to its cov­er­age of higher edu­ca­tion will improve its prestige inter­na­tion­ally. I’ll be able to share good bits from Laurie Taylor’s column. It’s good news.

And max­imum joy! I’ve just real­ised I can link to Daniel Lord Smail’s art­icle on Deep History so you can see what he’s writ­ten for yourself.