Whitehead: CMA revisit required

Shadow energy minister criticises missed opportunities in authority’s energy market investigation.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) may have to revisit its two-year log probe into the energy market if other suppliers follow Npower’s inflation-busting lead on fuel prices, Labour’s Alan Whitehead has warned.

Speaking to Utility Week, the shadow energy minister said: “We may have to revisit the CMA remedies because we have got to hold the energy companies much more to account.”

Last week, Npower announced that it had to increase its standard dual fuel tariff by 9.8 per cent in response to rises in wholesale energy costs.

Whitehead said that above-inflation increases in prices may be justified by rises in the wholesale market, but it was difficult to know given the lack of transparency surrounding suppliers’ costs.

Criticising the CMA’s decision to focus at an early stage on customer switching rather than whether the suppliers were behaving like a cartel, Whitehead described the CMA investigation as a “missed opportunity” to secure “proper and transparent relationships” in the market.

“The question is whether there is sufficient transparency in what companies are doing in terms of purchasing strategies and other costs.”

Addressing broader energy policy, he expressed disappointment that the publication of the long-delayed emissions reduction plan had been put back again.

The government had said that the plan, which is designed to set out how the UK will meet its post-2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, would be published by the beginning of next month.

However, the industrial strategy white paper, which was launched in January, has relaxed this target date to “sometime in 2017”.

Whitehead said: “The emissions reduction plan has been delayed for the third time and the latest indication is that it will be out some time in 2017. We need to get ourselves back on track.”

Author: David Blackman, policy correspondent, Utility Week,
Channel: Customers , Policy & Regulation , People

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