‘Big Six’ chief calls for Competition Commission probe as 60,000 worried consumers swamp Scottish Power switchboard after rise in fuel prices

Tony Cocker, Chief Executive, E.ON
Tony Cocker, Chief Executive, E.ON

Scottish Power’s switchboard was swamped by telephone calls from 60,000 worried customers after the gas and electricity supplier increased its prices by an average of just under 9% a year.

This was one of the key facts to emerge from yesterday’s evidence session at the Westminster parliament’s Energy Select Committee when MPs quizzed senior managers of the Big Six – and other – energy companies.

Following recent controversial above-inflation price increases, MPs on the Westminster Energy and Climate Change Committee took evidence from the energy companies on their reasons and justification over recent price rises, transparency of their profits and differences in pricing between energy suppliers.

Neil Clitheroe, Chief Executive, Scottish Power Retail and Generation, told MPs that ’60,000 customers called the company with concerns virtually straight away’ after it raised its gas and electricity prices last week.

Clitheroe was one of only two ‘Big Six’ chief exeutives/ managing directors to actually attend the Energy Committee hearing. MPs were angry that they have been denied the chance to question – as they had expected –

  • William  Morris, Managing Director, SSE
  • Ian Peters, Managing Director, Energy, British Gas, and
  • Vincent de Rivaz, Chief Executive, EDF Energy UK

Tony Cocker, Chief Executive Officer, E.ON – the only other Big Six chief to appear before MPs – told them that he had written to the Prime Minister urging him to set up a Competition Commission investigation into the British energy market in a bid to ‘de-politicise’ the current consumer controversy.

He said: “I fundamentally believe that this market is competitive. But I acknowledge we are not trusted and therefore, I also believe that we need to have a very thorough Competition Commission investigation.”

Guy Johnson, External Affairs Director, RWEnpower, said that while wholesale suppliers rose by 3% and that transport costs had increased by 10%, “it is the 31% increase in environmental obligations {taxes} that are driving energy prices rises.”

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