Scottish Power and SSE – two of Britain’s Big Six utility giants – gave a mixed response to the Competition and Markets Authority report calling for energy market reform to benefit consumers, who are paying an average of £160 per house per year more than they have to.
SSE noted that energy markets in Great Britain are generally well-functioning and competitive, and stated that they have ‘always recognised the benefits of reforms that are in the interests of customers’.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive, said: “SSE has consistently maintained that whilst customers already benefit from healthy market competition, there is always room for improvement.
“We will now examine the CMA publications in detail, along with the analysis that underpins them.
“We will also continue to work constructively with the CMA as this process continues to help ensure that the opportunity presented by this investigation is fully grasped, and that the final result is an enduring outcome that gives customers confidence, allows regulators to regulate, and encourages investors to invest in the Great Britain energy market.”
Scottish Power said that more needs to be done so that the market works better for customers and to simplify regulation.
Neil Clitheroe, Chief Executive, Retail and Generation, Scottish Power, said: “The CMA backs competition and dispels the myths that wholesale energy markets or vertically integrated companies are not working in the interests of consumers.
“But more needs to be done to improve competition so that the retail market works better for consumers, including addressing the CMA’s concerns about potential higher prices due to weak consumer engagement.
“With over half of our cash and direct debit customers benefitting from cut-price deals within the last two years, Scottish Power is pleased that the CMA recommends finding even better ways to unstick more customers.
“What is needed now is space for competition to breathe properly to allow consumers more choice not less.”
Good Energy chief: “Regulation not good enough’
Juliet Davenport, Chief Executive, Good Energy – one of the ‘small’ independent utility suppliers – commented: “It’s great that the CMA has recognised that the customer isn’t always getting the best deal.
“Far too many consumers have never even considered switching to a supplier, and the regulation which was intended to make things easier and fairer for them has in fact, made things worse and actually got in the way of competition.
“As a result energy bills now run into several pages and it’s not a surprise customers are disengaged.
“We’ve ended up with regulation – including the four-tariff rule – that gets in the way of enabling us to offer the best deal for customers.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing commented: “This report shows once again that successive UK Governments, and the energy regulator, Ofgem, have failed to provide a competitive energy market delivering fair and transparent energy bills.
“These provisional findings confirm the Scottish Government’s long held view about the retail energy market.
It is a disgrace that some of the most vulnerable consumers – particularly those in remote areas without access to mains gas and those on pre-payment meters – should be paying more.
“It is clear that energy companies need to do more to ensure that loyal customers get a fair deal for their custom.”
Competition Authority calls for energy market reform as confusion, complexity, lack of trust and inertia cost households an extra £160 a year on utility bills: – http://goo.gl/lzqC2U