As per title I work for a major energy supplier in the uk.

I have several different responsibilities.

I've started to get tired of the constant complaints in the media with regards to energy bills rising and decided to share the insider side of the story to anyone who would listen.


Edit: Thanks for the overwhelming response I'm going to stop now as this has been going on for some time now. If you have any specific questions just PM me and I'll do my best to get back to you. Cheers for reading folks!

Edit: Having just realised this is on the first page of Reddit I have to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are my own and not that of my employer.

Comments: 1264 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

08mms261 karma

Can you turn off the power to Steve's house? He lives in Essex. It would be hilarious!

RothesDis141 karma

As muh as I'd love to do that I can't. Steve and his neighbours would all have to off.

RothesDis70 karma

I'll put it off when he at least expects it.

CarboToad108 karma

Nuclear or Wind&Solar?

RothesDis258 karma

Personally out of the two Nuclear.

meeeeepy54 karma

Can you expand on your comment about making the network unstable please?

RothesDis82 karma

I'm not sure about your knowledge with regards electrical engineering so sorry if this too basic.

Imagine the cables on the network are like pipes. The energy in them is like water. The original power stations that the network was first built for are like taps.

The pipes can hold the water from the taps fine. The generators are like additional taps connecting to the pipe. When they are on more "water" flows into the "pipe" than it was designed for which can damage it.

Throw into this the flow of mvars changing spending on what is generating on the network.

It is also changes the fault level at certain points which makes it unsafe for the operational staff operating the network.

notacrackhead41 karma

in other words, the current produced is unpredictable and existing infrastructure, which is designed to handle a constant current can't handle it very well?

here in america, we use the river analogy for teaching the second semester of physics, too. as in, the width of the river is voltage and how fast it flows is the current.

RothesDis19 karma

Basically yes.

RakoGumi50 karma

Thanks for that IAMA,

What is the biggest misconception the general public has?

Since they looked after you, would you consider leaving this company for another?

What is your take on Cadburry eggs?

Which was/is your favourite Beatles?

What is a song you could not live without?


RothesDis159 karma

One of the biggest misconceptions I'd say is this "Being Green" concept; more specifically wind turbines or electric vehicles. We need the advances in technology but everyone is trying to run before they walk.

If I was offered something better by another company. I will defend my company to the end in terms comparing them to another of the big 6 but I don't trust them to look after me, like any other large company in this day in age.

If you mean Creme Eggs then my opinion is they need to fill their Easter eggs with the filling before I am happy.

I'm not a Beatles fan at all I'm afraid.

I'd say it's Swing Life away by Rise Against

[deleted]27 karma

Is there collusion between the energy companies on how much to charge customers? Always seemed to me that they all work as a kind of cartel...

RothesDis35 karma

I wouldn't say a collusion. Most of the companies share the same fuel sources so when they put their prices up the companies hands are kind of tied. The smaller energy companies follow suit as well but later on as they do not buy their fuel as far in advance as the bigger companies.

Ilerea_Kleinokitz24 karma

Thanks for doing this ama.

What's your take on nuclear energy? What about safety and the problem of permanent storage of nuclear waste?

RothesDis75 karma

You're very welcome, I'm surprised by the response tbh.

I'd like to see more of it. I feel that more money should of been invested into the disposal of nuclear waste. I'm fairly certain it has some of the highest efficiencies as a source of generation.

In terms of safety, they are incredibly safe. Unfortunately the two big incidents in history have marred it. Chernobyl (where the reactor we not well maintained) and Japan (building nuclear on earthquake zones) both had losses but not due to the source, due to yet again humans being idiots.

Erich0316 karma

What is your salary?

RothesDis25 karma

Around £35k

nsidd15 karma

I'm in the energy field as well, but am from India. How good is your power plants' efficiency?

I understand wind's unstable and fluctuates, but how bad is the situation?

RothesDis20 karma

I don't work in generation so don't quite these figures: I believe fossil fuel plants are round 30-40% whereas hydro is around 90% efficient

Frankeh10 karma

Growing weed. What's the deal with the monitoring of electricity. If a house is using 5KW an hour does that bring up red flags? What's the limit?

RothesDis58 karma

we dont monitor your usage remotely. If you have tried to put a work around on your Meter when the meter reader comes I check it they will spot it and report it. Also if the step between your previous reading and new one is too great it will be investigated.

Also, if you start sucking too much juice into your house you run the risk of your neighbours noticing their own lights flickering and reporting it to their supplier.

You may also cause an electrical fire in the walls of your home.

Finally - Drugs are bad, mmmkay

westdonkeykong7 karma

I work in the electrical utility industry in Canada. In our province, things are "de-regulated," meaning that there are separate, privately owned companies for each portion of the industry. (Generation, transmission, distribution and the retailers.)

-How are things run in the UK in this regard? -Are these companies government operated or private? -How is competition between companies for pricing or service territories? -How is the price of power regulated? (Is it?) Are the utility companies regulated in any way? -You bitched about renewable energy sources, and I have some of the same gripes, mostly that they are unpredictable and still only account for the tiny fraction of generation. What is that fraction in the UK?

Thanks for doing the AMA, it's interesting to see how things are run in another part of the world!

RothesDis10 karma

A few of the big 6 do all of the above. From source down to the meter in the consumers home. They are all privately owned. The territories were all split up a long time ago, before I started so I can give much insight on this. Renewables over all don't count for much but Scotland has a large amount of Hydro schemes due to the rain (and it does nothing but rain here) but Scotland does have a target of operating 100% renewables by 2020 which I am skeptical about.

2times216 karma

Do you think the country/consumers would be better off if gas/electric suppliers were nationalised or do you think the current system would work better for the country/consumers?

RothesDis10 karma

I haven't done much into the way of research on this. I do know that France still has the government running the show and sell their energy to other countries. The uk buys some of it's energy in and is privately ran.

[deleted]6 karma


RothesDis8 karma

Hydro schemes can do this to a certain extent already. Aslong as there is water behind the dam.

honkeystyle5 karma

Can you explain in layman's terms what a power factor really is?

RothesDis5 karma

Not without the help of my engineering notes from university and books! One thin I have learnt since my academics is that electrical engineers only use ohms law - Voltage = Current x Resistance.

If you can wait until I get home then I'll get back to you.

Sidian4 karma

What do you think of the British public's general perception of engineers? In my experience, they often think the term 'engineer' is interchangeable with the word 'mechanic' and whatnot.

RothesDis6 karma

i tend to find that engineer is not a well thought of title in the uk. Across in Europe many engineers put their educational title after their name much like a doctor. You wouldn't get away with that over here without some heavy real life trolling.

waxisfun3 karma

I had heard that one reason why geothermal is not that popular energy wise was because all the electric grid foundations are already set up (the person claimed that the electricity company make a large profit from building new grids and power lines). Is this true or complete bs?

RothesDis7 karma

One thing that dictates the prices of bills to consumers is how much we plan to invest into the network, the regulator then give the plan the go ahead.

What you have heard probably has some basis in this.