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Energy secretary challenges “big six”


The “big six” energy companies could be facing pressure from the new Conservative government to prove that their prices are reflecting companies' costs.

Energy secretary Amber Rudd has written to the “big six”, which consists of E.On, British Gas, Scottish Power, Npower, SSE and EDF to question them over customer prices. In the letter, Rudd has said:
"In light of the greater regulatory stability we are providing and continued stability in wholesale gas prices, I believe that energy suppliers should be seeking to regain the trust of consumers by reflecting this in their pricing decisions."

The energy companies have claimed that they are working in a highly competitive market.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has found that wholesale gas and electricity costs are £80 lower per customer than their estimated level a year ago. All of the six firms have cut retail prices over the past year, but this has failed to reflect the continuing fall in whole sale costs. One of the “big six” energy companies, SSE, reported a 50% rise in profits, despite losing more than 500,000 customers over a year.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "Energy firms have totally run out of excuses for not cutting our bills.
"It is good that ministers are acting but we now need to see suppliers do the right thing, and fast. If they don't play ball it will add weight to the case for the competition authority to step in and force the energy firms to make bills fair."

The Competition Markets Authority has also been investigating the enegy markets since last summer, and has reported that gas and electricity customers could have cut their bills by moving their custom to new products or different suppliers.

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