Britain’s energy market regulator stands accused of being “scared to do its job” by a leading campaigner pushing for an extensive cap on household electricity and gas bills. John Penrose, a backbench Conservative MP, attacked Ofgem for only consulting on a “safeguard tariff” to protect 2.2m “vulnerable” customers, in spite of promises by Theresa May, the prime minister, before the June general election to reduce energy bills for 17m households by £100. In an interview with the Financial Times this month, Dermot Nolan, Ofgem chief executive, said a wide-ranging cap to help 17m households was a “policy matter for government” and legislating for such a limit was, in the regulator’s view, “the most effective way” of implementing the policy. This is because any move by Ofgem to introduce a wide-ranging cap without legislation would open up a “substantive appeal route” for utility companies that oppose the policy, said Mr Nolan. The regulator added any such appeal would be referred to the competition regulators, which last year ruled out a widespread cap following a two-year investigation into the UK retail energy market. Instead, the Competition and Markets Authority recommended a number of other proposals to try to encourage switching in the market, although one suggestion – to allow energy companies to market directly to rivals’ customers if they have been on an expensive tariff for a long period – has already been put on hold following problems with trials.
FT 30th August 2017 read more »