Another day, another energy price hike. This time it’s Npower who has hit its customers with the biggest increase yet – a whopping 9.3% on electricity and 11.1% for gas. And then there’s a new nuclear deal…
Npower’s price hike comes on the same day that the government has announced a deal with EDF to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
After two big price rises already this autumn from the largest energy suppliers, SSE and British Gas, consumers face yet another winter of discontent. But with energy costs likely to continue to rise over the next 10 years, the woeful lack of scrutiny of energy prices can no longer be allowed to continue.
This is why the government needs to be taking much tougher action on making sure that energy prices are fair now – and in the future.
The Hinkley nuclear deal
On the nuclear deal, ministers will claim that we need this new generation, that consumers will not face the cost of new nuclear until 2023 and that in the long-term this will help to lower our bills. Much of this may well be true. But, the problem is that we have to take an awful lot of this in good faith.
And sadly trust in the government, as well as the energy companies, is in low supply when it comes to energy prices.
This is made worse by the fact that the Hinkley deal has effectively been done without any transparent or independent scrutiny. And no mechanism has been put in place to refund consumers, if we find out down the line that this deal has in fact been poorly negotiated and an energy company has received a nice windfall at our expense.
Npower price rise
On today’s Npower price rise, which will add £137 to a dual-fuel customer’s annual bill, we’re yet again in a situation where we have to trust an energy suppliers’ claim that wholesale costs have gone up and that the price of delivering government policies has become more expensive.
When people are struggling to get by – and energy bills are top of your financial worries – we simply can’t afford to be in a situation where suppliers and ministers blame each other for energy price rises.
That’s why action is needed to deal with this now. The government should set up an independent expert review, which can report to Parliament, looking at all energy policy costs – both hitting us now and in the future. This should assess whether we’re all getting value for money and importantly it should recommend areas where savings can be made.
We also desperately need to give the National Audit Office more responsibility reviewing energy costs so that the kind of decisions like today’s over Hinkley are held to account.
Without this, we simply won’t have confidence that our money is being spent wisely.
[UPDATE 24/10/2013] – Scottish Power is the fourth of the big six energy companies to announce a price rise. The increase will hit customers on 6 December 2013, with an 8.5% rise on gas and 9% on electricity. There’s just EDF and Eon to go now…