Views on commodities and energy
Now in the movies: The gentle giant
German utility RWE – Europe’s fifth-largest power company and the continent’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxcide – has resorted to a new way to counter what it sees as a fundamental misunderstanding about power companies.
Its animated movie – to be shown on TV and in cinemas – is meant to show what the company is really about – and overcome the public’s distaste for an industry whose dominance has allowed it to mete out ever higher power prices.
RWE portrays itself as a colossus with trees growing on his shoulders. He dives into the sea to install tidal-power plants and repairs power lines with gentle force.
Interestingly, this leviathan has characteristics that run contrary to what RWE might want to say. It supports some of the charges consumers level against utilities and has traits utilities always deny.
Many criticize the market dominance of utilities that allows them to raise prices and give consumers little option other than to pay up.
The giant of the film is alone in what he does and seems to be in complete control of his domain. He does not have to struggle with others who want to build windmills where he wants to.
Utilities claim they are accountable and transparent – to the public as well as their shareholders. The colossus has no need to justify himself. He does whatever he does because he wants to do. He rules.
He also leaves a large question mark over at least one key issue ahead of the general election in Germany in September. Would this giant’s engineering skills be sufficient to operate nuclear power plants?
Utilities – and the conservatives and liberals in Germany – are seeking to extend the lifespan of nuclear power plants, saying they would be safe to run at least 10 years longer.
We might emerge from our 2 minutes of viewing with the conviction they will be maintained, but at least the RWE giant is shown to be nice, extremely focused on renewable energy and always working for the benefit of its clients.