Huhne calls for energy companies to give more power to the public
Local MP Ian Swales has welcomed calls by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne for big gas and electricity suppliers to offer their own proposals for making prices clearer for consumers, or face Government legislation forcing them to do so.
Mr. Huhne has written to the UK's energy suppliers asking them to volunteer suggestions over the next fortnight so that a deal can be reached by the end of the summer.
If they fail to do so the Government may use powers in the Energy Bill to impose changes which would make it easier for families to shop around for a better deal.
Commenting, Mr Swales, the MP for Redcar constituency, said:
"At the moment the public are confronted with a bewildering array of different energy tariffs which discourage them from shopping around for a better deal. Simplifying bills so that consumers can see a breakdown of exactly what they are paying could open up the market to more competition which in turn could drive prices down."
Mr. Huhne said:
"With fewer than one in five people a year shopping around and switching energy companies, people are missing out on the opportunity to save, in some cases, literally hundreds of pounds."
The calls come after Scottish Power caused public outcry recently by announcing plans to increase their gas and electricity prices by 19% and 10% respectively from August, with the other 'Big Six' energy companies expected to follow suit.
In response Mr. Swales wrote to energy regulator OFGEM calling for them to take action to curb "obscene" prices rises at a time when many families are already strained financially.
Alistair Buchanan, the regulator's Chief Executive, has since launched an investigation into the matter, with the potential that the case could be referred to the Competition Commission in the future.
Mr. Swales said:
"I am pleased to see that the Government and OFGEM are taking this matter seriously and are acting to protect consumers from endless price rises. I will continue to press for action which ensures people in my area get a fair deal."