UK: Energy bosses face grilling by MPs
The bosses of the UK’s six biggest energy firms are facing a grilling from MPs amid growing public anger over rising bills.
The Business and Enterprise Select Committee will probe the chief executives of British Gas, EDF, npower, E.ON, Scottish Power, and Scottish & Southern Energy. The average dual fuel customer is now paying nearly 15% more - £1,048 (€1,325, $2,063) - for gas and electricity after the latest round of increases. This is nearly double five years ago - and the fear is bills could go up by another 40% later this year as firms tackle rising costs. This would add a potential £400 to increasingly strained household budgets. The chiefs of the “big six” are expected to argue the doubling of wholesale gas prices for the coming winter give them little option. In Europe, wholesale gas costs are linked to oil prices, which have surged to near $140 a barrel. Customers have also been hit by the cost of industry’s efforts to tackle climate change.
The MPs launched their inquiry into the market in May after complaints energy firms were colluding on prices and over charging customers. The committee is also probing claims the companies and the Government are doing enough to help those in fuel poverty. Energy regulator Ofgem launched its own probe into the UK gas and electricity markets in February. It told committee it had acted because of the similar way in which five of the six energy firms increased their bills during the winter, SSE being the exception. Rising gas and electricity bills have been a major factor alongside food and oil prices in inflation climbing to 3.3% last month. That is the highest level since Labor came to power in 1997. The official inflation target is 2%. (Sky News)
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