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Energy Supply Companies

Volume 483: debated on Tuesday 18 November 2008

As I undertook to do in my statement to the House on 16 October 2008, Official Report, columns 935-937, yesterday I again met the main energy supply companies to discuss my concerns about a number of issues in the retail energy markets.

I reiterated my concerns about findings in the Ofgem report on the energy supply market, about the charges facing electricity-only customers and customers paying excessively high charges for their particular payment method. I made clear the importance the Government attaches to progress on these and other issues.

As part of the due process I referred to in my October statement, the companies have until 1 December to provide a formal response to the Ofgem findings. Ofgem will then come forward with its conclusions, including any proposed changes to licence conditions.

However, as promised in my statement, I stand ready to consult on legislation should there not be a speedy and satisfactory resolution to these issues.

At the meeting, I also highlighted the public’s concern about the current high level of retail prices. I impressed upon the companies the need for retail energy prices to reflect changes in wholesale prices as soon as possible. The Government and the industry are agreed on the need to bring down retail gas and electricity prices.

The meeting also recognised the need for very significant levels of investment in our energy infrastructure in the coming years.