The announcement of a two year price freeze on consumer energy bills by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) prompted a spate of comment by the main political parties, the energy industry itself and also from consumer bodies north and south of the border:
A spokesperson for the London-based consumer association said: “This is a bold move in an energy market badly in need of change and we welcome the certainty this announcement brings to hard-pressed SSE customers. Millions of households can be confident that their energy bills won’t be hit again by inflation busting price rises in the months to come.
“By responding positively to our campaign for a separation of retail and generation businesses, SSE has also shown the industry itself can take action to improve transparency. We now want to see a full competition inquiry to ensure the whole energy market is opened up to more competitive pressure, to keep costs in check and give all consumers confidence they are paying a fair price.”
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations
The SFHA gave a cautious welcome but warned that with fuel prices expected to rise above inflation in the coming years, the only way to insulate tenants against fuel poverty is a well-funded, long-term programme to invest in the energy efficiency of existing housing.
Citizens Advice Scotland
The price freeze will be welcome news for hard pressed consumers in Scotland, though more must be done by suppliers and Government to help the third of people who already struggle to heat their home.
We also welcome the moves to separate the retail and wholesale business in the interest of increased transparency. This is an important first step in making the energy market more competitive and we hope the other big suppliers follow suit.
SSE’s move ahead of a possible competition investigation announcement today shows why major reform is both necessary and possible.
A freeze at current electricity prices will provide security and reassurance for millions of consumers, even if it will not reduce the burden on households who are struggling to afford to keep their homes warm.
The separation of the retail and wholesale business shows that fundamental market reform is possible and we want a competition enquiry that will consider how to drive through such reforms across the market
In addition, we want to see:
A fundamental competition review of the energy market that questions whether its very structure fails consumers.
Coordinated and well-resourced programmes for energy efficiency as the surest way of cutting consumer bills over the long term.
Simpler ways for consumers to make choices in the market, get advice on all aspects of energy supply and get help if they are struggling with their bills’