The competition watchdog will on Thursday announce remedies aimed at addressing the dominance and excessive profits of the big six energy suppliers in the UK retail market. But the Competition and Markets Authority is set to yield to lobbying by the big six and drop plans for a safeguard price cap and, probably, lift a ban on multiple confusing tariffs. It has already turned its back on demands to break up these large utilities. While it’s true that the big six have severely distorted the retail market, their biggest crime will not be mentioned anywhere: that they have been acting as a massive brake on work towards modernising and decarbonising Britain’s power sector. In Germany, politicians have seized the initiative on behalf of their citizens by introducing the Energiewende – energy change – to fast-track the country into a low-carbon era. They ignored the critical screams from their (and our) utility companies, including RWE and E.ON. In Britain these utilities have for decades used their financial and political muscle to keep their vested interests and fossil fuel assets in place. The CMA should have gone ahead with breaking up Centrica, SSE and the rest – not because it would have had a dramatic impact on immediate prices, although it would have helped, but because it would undermine their power base. And big six should really read big seven, because the National Grid, too, is stuck in the past and frightened of the future, just as the lights are in danger of going out because of a lack of new investment. The only new power stations energy secretary Amber Rudd seems determined to pursue are nuclear, but even the first proposed one – at Hinkley Point in Somerset – is much delayed and dependent on a yet-to-be agreed French financing package for EDF. But amid all that gloom there came a glimmer of hope at the end of last week, courtesy of the National Infrastructure Commission in a report for the Treasury. The report, entitled “Smart Power”, says what this newspaper, many energy experts and businesses without legacy fossil fuel interests have long been saying: you do not need to build that much new power capacity if you put more emphasis on reducing demand.
Observer 6th March 2016 read more »
More than four million households could see their energy bills cut by regulators, under plans to cap prices for vulnerable customers expected to be announced this week. But the Competition and Markets Authority, which has been investigating allegations of rip-off energy prices for two years, is expected to confirm it has abandoned its original plan of a wide-ranging cap that could have resulted in price cuts for 70 per cent of UK households. A temporary “safeguard” price cap set by regulators should instead apply to the approximately 16 per cent of households that have pre-payment electricity and g as meters, the CMA is expected to conclude in a provisional decision due on Thursday. These households are disproportionately likely to be poor or vulnerable, with some having had a pre-payment meter forcibly installed after struggling with debt.
Telegraph 5th March 2016 read more »