Sunday 4 December 2016

Coalition should turn up heat on energy suppliers

Published 26/01/2016 | 02:30

Minister for Energy Alex White. Photo: Tom Burke
Minister for Energy Alex White. Photo: Tom Burke

Someone once said that with power comes responsibility; of course, they weren't talking about the kind of power we get from electricity and gas, but it applies to the suppliers of both too. As wholesale prices plummet, energy utilities have a responsibility to pass on some of the benefit to consumers - especially given the fact that these prices are at a six-year low.

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Their failure to cut costs has understandably left them open to accusations of "profiteering". Energy Minister Alex White is now thinking of turning up the heat on suppliers and demanding an explanation as to why homeowners are not getting a fairer cut. This is an opportunity for the Labour minister to show that he won't stand by as consumers get it in the neck.

It has been said that diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments. Mr White has few statutory powers at his disposal, but he would have considerable support from consumers, and control of the high ground when it comes to the public mood is a considerable advantage. If the energy companies prove unwilling or reluctant to heed his words, he should call them back in again as many times as is necessary for them to appreciate that anything less than a fair deal for consumers is unacceptable.

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