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Chris Huhne pledges tough action for energy firms

Chris Huhne pledges tough action for energy firms

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 20/09/2011
First Published: 20/09/2011

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The Government's Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, has pledged to get tough with the UK 's big six energy companies at the Liberal Democrat party conference.

British Gas, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy, Npower, e.on and EDF Energy supply the overwhelming majority of energy to domestic customers in the UK .

Last week, EDF became the sixth and last of the firms to announce domestic price increases, leading to angry reactions from consumer groups.

All of the companies have blamed the rising cost of wholesale prices and infrastructure costs for their decisions.

But in Mr Huhne's address to the Liberal Democrats in Birmingham today, he re-iterated his aim to force companies to make information available on cheaper and simpler tariffs.

The Energy Secretary announced plans to make it easier for people to switch their provider and cut the cost of their bills.

It was also recommended that the energy regulator Ofgem be given greater powers to make firms pay money back to customers who have been poorly treated.

Ofgem is currently allowed to charge energy firms up to 10% of their turnover.

And he told the audience that Ofgem was stamping out doorstep selling, with guilty companies facing heavy fines.

But his harshest words were reserved for companies that offer cheaper tariffs for online customers but keep costs high for their other customers.

"It's not fair that big energy companies can push their prices up for the vast majority of their consumers, who do not switch, while introducing cut-throat offers for new customers that stop small firms offering the market," said Mr Huhne.

"That looks to me like predatory pricing. It must and will stop."

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