Energy White Paper: ‘Big Six’ response

The 'Big Six' energy suppliers have rounded on the Government's electricity market reforms by saying they will force up energy bills.

Energy Minister, Chris Huhne, admitted this week consumers ‘will need to pay to secure a low carbon future’ when he presented his energy white paper to Parliament.

However, well before the minister had spoken both British Gas and ScottishPower had already raised prices well above inflation.

British Gas parent firm Centrica Energy’s managing director, Mark Hanafin, called the ERM an ‘important step’ that will ‘come at a cost’.

He said: “There remains much detail to resolve so that investors can have confidence that the tax and regulatory environment makes the UK energy sector a good place to invest.

“These measures come at a cost and it is vital that all of us – Government, regulators and the industry – are open and transparent with the public about the true impact of these changes.”

Npower director of industrial and commercial markets, David Cockshott, said: “We found many major energy users in the UK are concerned about the legislation outlined in the EMR and the impact it will have on their operations in the UK.

“While the EMR white paper provides some clarity on future of the UK energy market, it may not provide the reassurance intensive energy users are seeking.

“Our experience with talking to industry about the EMR suggests that they will be eagerly awaiting further detail on each of the EMR proposals so they can start to make key low carbon investment decisions.”

EDF Energy chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, said the moves were good news for customers, policy makers and investors.

He said: “It encourages investment in generation which is both low carbon and not dependent on fossil fuel prices.

“Trust is the essence of a healthy market, therefore it is important to continue to have a dialogue about energy costs.

“Consumer bodies, the regulator, industry and Government need to work together to build understanding. Renewing Britain’s ageing energy infrastructure will have a cost. Electricity Market Reform means that cost will be kept to a minimum.”

Scottish and Southern Energy chief executive, Ian Marchant, said: “Any changes to the electricity market arrangements have to be carefully thought through, in a way which avoids unintended consequences and is supportive of the investment that is needed now and in the next few years.

“It is on this basis that we will ultimately judge the white paper as a whole and to ensure this is achieved we will continue to work with the UK government and other stakeholders.”

E.ON chief executive, Dr Paul Golby, said: “We cannot be complacent, it’s important this is driven forward to ensure a cleaner energy future for everyone.

“And, while the onus on the energy companies is to produce, transport and supply energy as efficiently as possible, we must also remember that this is not just about companies like E.ON and the Government, this is also about helping our customers who have a vital role to play in all of this.

“By becoming more energy fit – by insulating their homes, moderating their energy usage and by generating their own power – our customers can do their bit to reduce both their bills and also their carbon emissions, dual aims that we can all get behind.”

ScottishPower were offered the opportunity to comment but at the time of writing have not responded.

Luke Walsh

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