Energy price increases add half a billion to bills

Recent changes in energy prices has resulted in householders facing half a billion pounds’ worth of increased energy bills.

Price comparison service, uSwitch, reports that power increases have already been made, that result in customers paying £338 (37%) more for their gas and electricity than they were in 2008, although it is recognised that there are differences in the tariffs offered by the companies that dominate the market.

 The guardian reported today, ‘While heating has been turned up in the cold winter, domestic energy users have been forced to cope with a series of price rises, the most recent one being a 9% or £42 rise for electricity and 3% or £9 rise for gas imposed by E.ON.

“This [wider industry] increase has hit 24.6 million customers, added over £560m on to our energy bills and taken the average household energy bill to £1,250,” said Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com.

“It is a painful reminder that while households are attempting to rein in costs their essential bills are being pushed up, often through no fault of their own.”

EDF Energy has frozen its prices until March this year but five of Britain’s big six energy suppliers have increased theirs by an average of 5.4% or £65, with the typical annual household energy bill shooting up to £1,250 as a result.

This is not far short of the very high levels seen two years ago when the average household energy bill rose by 42% from £912 to £1,293 over one 12-month period. Subsequent price cuts saw it drop by 8% or £99 to £1,194, argues uSwitch.

British Gas, SSE and others blame the rise in the price of wholesale gas but energy regulator Ofgem launched a review of the pricing policy after British Gas made operating profits of £585m for the first half of 2010, up 98% on the same period in 2009.

Consumer Focus, a champion for energy users, says homeowners will remain sceptical about the reasons given for higher prices as long as power companies do not provide details about their gas-buying activities and the costs that they are absorbing.

“Consumers will feel they haven’t received the benefits of low wholesale prices for the last two years but suppliers have been quick to up prices as wholesale costs have begun to rise,” said Audrey Gallacher, head of energy at Consumer Focus.

Brent crude oil futures prices rose above $98 a barrel yesterday for the first time in 27 months as production shutdowns in Norway and growing global demand raised expectations of tighter supplies. Barclays Capital has predicted $100 oil before long – a very high level by historic standards – but that is still far short of the $147 spike in the summer of 2008.’

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Read the full article: The Guardian