Livewire - September 27, 2013

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By Jacqui Morley

Put a cap on it! That’s the plea to energy giants from cash strapped householders sick of rising power bills.

Profit-grasping power suppliers have been back in the news since Labour leader Ed Miliband promised price freezes as a corner stone of his election manifesto.

The plan for a freeze on household and business energy bills between June 2015 and the start of 2017 was the stand-out announcement of Mr Miliband’s party conference speech this week.

Dr Monica Giulietti, an associate professor of global energy who has studied UK energy prices for 20 years, has warned that a policy focusing primarily on price freezes is not likely to address the root cause of the lack of competitiveness in the energy market and could create more incentives for suppliers to collude on prices.

Mrs Dorothy Thomas, 66, of Bloomfield Road, South Shore, admitted: “I was driven out of a two-bed terrace by fuel bills and other expenses after my partner lost his job. I’d love to see the energy giants told where to go but I’ve lived with years of broken promises by politicians and I can’t see any of them getting to grips with it.

“My worry is that we’ll see a return to the bad old days of blackouts if the power suppliers don’t think they’re making enough.”

Her partner, who did not wish to be named, said: “We’ve only just moved here and are back on a meter for the first time in years.”

Retired engineer David Dawson of Clifton Drive, St Annes, also sounded a note of caution. “On the face of it it’s a vote winner but if you have to read between the lines. It’s regulatory intervention at its most extreme – and I can see a far more pressing argument to apply that to other situations than to the energy market which is already in a state of flux.

“Nothing’s fair in love, war and heating bills but a balance has to be struck.

“I grudge paying more too but change suppliers to play one off against the other.

“I’m also a pragmatist. Realistically, reserves are running out and suppliers need to source alternative energy sources . They currently make immense profits at our expense. I’d like to see where they invest the money.”