E.ON lobbied Kwasi Kwarteng for tax cuts and less regulation
They were also shared with the Treasury, where an official told E.ON: “We used your data to provide written advice. [to then chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, which] we expect him to read over the weekend.
openDemocracy obtained the documents through a freedom of information request, although several sections were redacted.
A separate letter from the head of E.ON’s UK branch, Michael Lewis, was sent directly to Kwarteng and Zahawi – although the government has refused to release any of it under the Freedom of Information Act.
Today, a spokesperson for E.ON said the company had “constantly and publicly” stated its position on the energy price cap.
The risks “have increased massively”
E.ON sent its PowerPoint slides to the Treasury just three days after the German energy giant forecast €4.1bn (£3.6bn) in global pre-tax profits for 2022.
“E.ON’s business proceeded as planned in the first half of 2022, despite the challenging environment,” he said.
Earlier in the year, the company’s chief financial officer told investors he was “extremely confident” about E.ON’s prospects, saying the supplier would “progressively pass on higher prices to our customers” if necessary.
Marc Spieker added that the company was “fully hedged”, meaning it had purchased power in advance to ensure it had enough supplies.
But lobbying material sent to Tory ministers this summer paints a different picture. E.ON warned of the prospect of energy companies collapsing and triggering financial chaos, which could mean even higher bills for consumers. Risks to the sector have “increased massively”, he said, adding that “even if we can protect ourselves”, predicting the number of customers will still be “extremely difficult”.
The warnings came as a growing number of people threatened to ‘go on strike’ over spiraling energy bills. The ‘Don’t Pay’ campaign originally aimed to enlist one million customers who would pledge not to pay their bills when prices rose in October.
Documents now reveal how concerned E.ON was about the campaign, saying it was “existential to the industry”.
“One million customers canceling their direct debits on October 1 means a loss of £265m per month in the energy retail sector, or a loss of £45m per month for E.ON only…
“I can’t pay or I don’t want to pay, this is existential for the sector and will lead to further major supplier failures. What is the government and industry response?”