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Insiders predict further energy bill hikes

Gas and electricity bills are to rise by a further 15 per cent before winter, the Times reports.Anonymous industry insiders who spoke to the newspaper have indicated that high wholesale energy costs - which provoked a similar double-digit rise from providers in the New Year - will lead to the increase.Prices for natural gas have increased by over 120 per cent since last year, while crude oil hit an all-time record of over $146 last week.Coal for European delivery also hit $225 per tonne on the market earlier today - up from just $80 a year ago.Speaking to the newspaper, an energy industry source said: "[Centrica] are really feeling these prices... so it is just a question of how long they can hold on without being forced to issue a profit warning. "Nobody wants to be put in that position."Another source added: "By the time you get into September, the volumes of gas being used increases sharply which magnifies the losses, so the end of August would be the very latest [for the price rise]."

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