Centrica defends itself amid protests

May 1, 2012 at 6:34 AM

LONDON, May 1 (UPI) -- Addressing climate change and the cost of energy are part of the business strategy for Centrica, the company said amid protests.

Greenpeace activists have demonstrated in front of the headquarters of British energy company Centrica. Greenpeace said a natural gas deal between Centrica and the government of Qatar exposed the British energy sector to market vulnerabilities.

Greenpeace said Qatar's tendency to ship natural gas to Asian markets means costs trickle down to consumers. They said about 16 percent of the average energy bill is backing renewable energy efforts while more than 60 percent is paying for rising natural gas prices.

Centrica Chief Executive Officer Sam Laidlaw said renewable energy is expensive. If the 83 percent of the British households switched from natural gas to wind, he said, consumer bills would increase more than 200 percent.

"To keep the lights on, keep bills affordable and to bring down carbon emissions, we need a balanced energy mix and I believe that, along with other energy sources like gas, renewables have a key role to play," he said in a letter to Greenpeace.

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