Britain’s “big six” power giants are set to avoid a break-up this week but may have to make it easier for households to switch suppliers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will conclude its two-year investigation into the energy market this week. Experts said it would opt against pushing the nuclear button by dismantling the big six. Its final report, due out on Friday morning, is instead likely to press on with the creation of a database of “disengaged customers” — those who have been on a standard tariff for three or more years. The energy market is in a state of flux as technological breakthroughs such as battery storage and cheaper solar generation disrupt the traditional model of big, vertically integrated power companies. Centrica, which is the owner of British Gas and provides a third of households with gas and a quarter with power, recently called time on the big six. As recently as 2012, British Gas, SSE, Npower, Scottish Power, Eon and EDF Energy, controlled 99% of the residential energy market. That share has fallen to 85% as millions of customers have defected to a crop of nimble, web-based upstarts. Iain Conn, Centrica’s chief executive, recently stated that the rapid development of new technologies had already begun to turn the market on its head. “We are on the edge of a revolution. The ‘big six’ nomenclature will become passé,” he said. New gas-fired power plants and so-called “distributed generation” — such as domestic solar and wind — are beginning to displace Britain’s fleet of ageing coal and nuclear power plants.
Times 19th June 2016 read more »