Energy watchdog calls for utility company price cuts

Consumer watchdog Consumer Focus has challenged energy companies to cut prices. It has called for at least one utility provider to “break ranks” before Christmas.

The calls come a day after Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband’s meeting with the “big six” energy suppliers on Monday (November 17).

Miliband (pictured) called the meeting in a bid to persuade energy companies to pass on savings on wholesale prices to customers, after huge falls in oil and gas prices. He is also concerned by the premiums paid by vulnerable customers on prepayment meters.

Miliband says the Government and the energy companies “agreed on the need to bring down gas and electricity prices” during the meeting, but the move has angered consumer groups, who say immediate action is needed.

Consumer Focus chief executive Ed Mayo says: “At a time when businesses are having to cut their margins to the bone and all consumers are being squeezed on every front, Consumer Focus is calling for at least one supplier to break ranks and reduce their prices by Christmas.”

Energy companies claim price reduction will not be possible until next year. A utility source says: “Energy companies bought much of this winter’s gas months ago to secure energy supplies in advance. Wholesale markets remain volatile but will be affected by the weather and reliability of gas supplies.”

Scottish & Southern Energy says that it is “optimistic” about reducing its prices in 2009 if “the downward trend continues”. EDF Energy, British Gas, e.on, Npower and Scottish Power say they have no immediate plans to reduce prices.

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