Only a Competition inquiry can say whether high energy prices are avoidable


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 10, 2006 – The fourteenth price rise by major energy companies this year will be met with dismay from consumers, who will face higher bills and tough choices about how well they heat their homes this winter.

Scottish and Southern Energy customers may find a little solace in the fact that, despite their third price rise since January 2006, they still come out cheapest for gas and one of the cheapest for electricity.

Allan Asher, Chief Executive of energywatch, said: “Despite reports that the wholesale price of gas is starting to fall, cheaper domestic energy bills will not follow this year and the market generally shows few signs of genuine competition. Upstream gas producers boast of ‘staggering’ cash flows, vertically integrated energy companies reap the benefit from inflated electricity prices and new entrants cannot break into the market to compete with the big six.

“energywatch remains convinced that only a Competition Commission inquiry into the problems in the energy market will tell consumers whether punishing energy prices in Britain are unavoidable or whether they can be explained, largely, by a market structure that inhibits vigorous competition. The focus and determination of the EU review of energy markets must be matched by a similar resolve in Britain.

“Consumers have had enough of the relentless hammering from energy companies. They deserve to know that everything is being done to sort the problem out. Sitting on our hands waiting for prices to fall is not an acceptable response.”