UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has condemned British Gas’ announcement today of price rises of 18% to gas and 16% to electricity bills.
The price hike by Centrica-owned British Gas, which is the UK’s largest domestic energy supplier with over 11 million gas and 6 million electricity customers, will set duel fuel customers back an average £190 a year.
“Britain’s consumers are being buffeted by the violent and unpredictable winds of global fossil fuel prices. I refuse to stand by and watch this happen,” Energy Secretary Huhne said in a statement.
However, there were no new answers for consumers as he reiterated the Government’s commitment to push energy suppliers to help customers improve the energy efficiency of their homes and recent actions to back new entrants to the energy supply market.
Huhne blamed the price rises on the UK’s “fossil fuel addiction”, which he says the Government’s proposed electricity market reform will change. But with a clear indication of a future reliance on nuclear power, Huhne added:
“There’s a way out of this. Look at how the French benefit from only relying on fossil fuels for a fraction of their power - bills there are only expected to rise by 3% this year. Alternatives like renewables and nuclear power must be allowed to become the dominant component of our energy mix.”
British Gas blamed rising wholesale costs, which it claims are up 30% on last winter, because of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa.
Consumer organisation Which? has also condemned the move by British Gas, warning that there could be a cold winter ahead for many consumers.
“Many people are already having to cut back on essentials because of the rising cost of living, and with energy bills rising further, this could be a cold winter for many,” says executive director Richard Lloyd.
Government statistics put the number of UK households living in fuel poverty at around 4.5 million, according to 2008 data, but that will surely rise this winter as price hikes from British Gas and other suppliers, such as Scottish Power, hit home.
For further information:
UK Energy Secretary calls summit for small energy suppliers (7-Jul)
Scottish Power price hike could drive households towards energy efficiency (9-Jun)
Green Deal won’t rip off consumers, says UK Government (6-Jun)
UK electricity market reform ‘hiding’ nuclear subsidies, says report (16-May)
08 July 2011