Hot on the heels of Ed Milliband's controversial pledge to cap energy prices if voted in at the next election, and to predictable howls of derision and criticism from all sides, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has announced an 8.2% rise in energy prices. The political point scoring and brinkmanship continues, with the Tories sticking to their guns and focusing efforts on improving the stubbornly low consumer switching levels. Has Ed performed a political masterstroke, or shot himself in the foot by revealing his true Marxist colours?
Frankly, I don't care too much either way. In my view, this latest politicking is unhelpful, and both sides of what passes these days for a political divide appear in a state of ideological confusion and prone to using the energy sector as a well-worn political football.
Who still remembers the farcical 'greenest government ever' claim from David Cameron in the lead up to the last election, much mocked since by the Labour leader, who had played such a key role in the Labour government's enactment of the Climate Change Act and our self-imposed (and now looking distinctly over-ambitious) carbon reduction targets.
Despite the influence of the Lib Dems, the last few years have seen a distinct lack of commitment to green targets as the Government has struggled to get the economy back on track, with the agenda blown sideways by excitement around fracking which has given a boost to the Chancellor and his clear preference for gas.
All the while, energy costs have been rising inexorably.But why are we surprised?
Certainly, the whole question of underlying unit energy costs and the influence of the global energy (especially gas) markets is a complex and confusing one. The vertical integration of the 'big six' energy companies confounds the problem, serving to make the relative profitability of their generation and retail businesses hard to fathom; an area where the regulator Ofgem's reform proposals have been criticised for not going far enough.
Notwithstanding this, it is worth remembering that the two key pillars of energy policy - security of supply and carbon reduction - are inherently expensive (and to an extent contradictory). They require huge amounts of capital investment, not only to replace our ageing power generation and network infrastructure but to address our old, energy inefficient, housing stock.
We might not like the increasingly large numbers on our monthly bills, but some commentators have put the investment needed in the energy sector to meet Ed's carbon emissions reduction targets at around £330 billion by 2030 and that money has to come from somewhere.
It is interesting to compare the media attention which "Red" Ed's price freeze has attracted, with the rather scant coverage of the latest climate change prognosis from the United Nations. A report from the UN's climate scientists, published last month, puts a 95% certainty on the claim that humans are the 'dominant cause' of global warming since the 1950's. It explains that the existence of global warming is 'unequivocal', and states that a pause in warming over the past 15 years is too short a period to reflect long-term trends.
In its summary for policy makers, the scientists predict a faster rate of rise in sea levels, and a continuation in global surface warming under all scenarios.
We should keep this in mind, because it's why we embarked on the painful journey towards a decarbonised UK energy sector in the first place - and why we are now so reliant on the energy companies taking a benign view on the UK as an investment location.
As pointed out by Will Morris, SSE group managing director of retail, Government-imposed green levies add around £110 to the annual energy cost for the average UK household. The suggestion that the cost of the Government's green policies might be removed from bills and funded through general taxation is beginning to gain some traction.
Mr Morris went on to blame policy makers for failing to tell the public that the switch to a carbon free future would bring additional costs - he has a point.
But endless tinkering with law and regulation is rarely productive, especially when we compete for investment on a global stage. Reliance on private sector investment should mean an energy market which is stable and free of restrictive legislation, with the potential for investors, green or otherwise, to make reasonable returns.
The prospect of market intervention by Government to cap prices, albeit as a precursor to a comprehensive market review (yes, another one), sits uncomfortably with this. There is a lot at stake. Will the energy companies or private investors stake their future profits on an industry beset with political meddling? Will the mere threat of a price freeze deter investment over the next 20 months regardless of the outcome of the next election?
Some energy companies have been quick to point out the short comings of Ed's policy, although claims that we risk the 'lights going out' is surely scaremongering and unhelpful. Am I the only one who turned off last month's Channel 4 'docudrama' Blackout, in dismay at such a depressing and ill-informed piece of programme-making which added nothing particularly helpful to the current national debate?
Clearly, in times of stagnating household incomes, we need to retain a focus on prices and affordability. But amidst all the political posturing let's not forget that the UK has some of the lowest energy prices in Europe, and an unparalleled opportunity to lead by example in the evolution to a secure and lower carbon energy sector.