London, UK —(METERING.COM)— July 6, 2006 – Almost a million gas and electricity customers switched suppliers in March in response to soaring household bills during winter, Britain’s gas and electricity regulator Ofgem has indicated in a startling report.
This is the highest figure ever to be recorded for a single month and a 200,000 increase on normal levels.
Ofgem whose role is to promote choice and value for all customers, believes that these figures are an indication that competition in the sector is alive and kicking. It said that the overall prices for gas and electricity had risen by 40% over the past two years.
Each of the big six power companies has announced at least two price increases over the past six month, blaming soaring wholesale gas prices. Despite this each company also announced record profits. By March most consumers had received a bill covering the winter period. It appears many consumers were shocked by its size and prompted to take action.
Ofgem’s Chief Executive, Alistair Buchanan said that their research shows that recent prices have seen a large number of customers vote with their feet and take advantage of the competitive market to change their energy supplier. “Competition is so vigorous that not only can you change your supplier but you can also choose from a selection of tariffs. This variety of options means that there are significant savings to be made for all customers, including those on prepayment meters. Customers who have never switched supplier can save over £110 ($202), so across Britain there are unclaimed savings of around £1 billion ($1.8 billion).”
Ofgem’s market research into the motives for switching indicated that price had been the main reason for 45% of switches. A call from a salesman prompted 30% of customers into action and advice from friend or family drove a further 8%. The gas market saw the greatest movement of customers.