‘Big Six’ energy firm bosses feel the heat at Westminster

Energy bills have risen by an average of 9.1%
Energy bills have risen by an average of 9.1%

Energy company bosses have faced a grilling at Westminster from the Energy and Climate Change Committee, chaired by the local MP.

Executives from the ‘Big Six’ power firms, British Gas, EDF, SSE, E-on, nPower and Scottih Power, were summoned to appear before the committee, chaired by Sir Robert Smith, amid widespread anger at recent price hikes.

Four of the six have announced increases, which come to an average of a 9.1% rise on bills.

The committee also invited bosses from smaller energy firms to quiz them on issues of the reasons and justification behind energy price rises, difference of pricing policies between energy suppliers and how the transparency of energy company profits can be improved.

The executives were accused by the committee of producing “a list of excuses” after attempting to justify the price rises.

They said that a reason for the increases was the UK Government’s green levies and increasing wholesale prices.

Kicking off the meeting, acting committee chair Sir Robert, MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, expressed his frustration and said: “Christmas and winter are approaching and people are worried about their bills.”

Sir Robert has previously commented on the need for more support for households in rural areas such as Aberdeenshire, particularly those which are off the gas grid.

Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.On, somewhat surprised the committee by revealing he had written to Prime Minister David Cameron to suggest a full investigation into the whole energy market.

He said: “I fundamentally believe that this market is competitive but I acknowledge we are not trusted and therefore I believe we need to have a very thorough competition commission investigation.”

EDF suggested the same thing earlier this month.

But British Gas said a full competition inquiry would not be helpful.