Oct. 14, 2011
-- British Gas, owned by Centrica, is putting up its UK gas and electricity prices for domestic customers from 18 August. Gas bills will rise by an average of 18% and electricity bills by an average of 16%. This change will affect nine million households in the UK, and the average dual fuel customer - that's someone who gets both from British Gas - will have to pay an extra £190 a year.
The company blames the rising wholesale cost of gas, which it says has gone up by 30% since last winter. It buys half its gas on the international wholesale market, and says it has to pay the market rate. British Gas says it had already warned that it was likely to raise prices this year. In May, the company said its customers were not paying enough to reflect the increased cost of gas on the wholesale markets, and that this would depress its profits.
However, Mike O'Connor, the chief executive of Consumer Focus, pointed out that while wholesale costs had gone up, but they were still around a third lower than their 2008 peak and during that time British Gas' prices have risen by around 44% on gas and 21% on electricity. Last year, British Gas' residential business made £740m profit.
In June, Scottish Power was the first of the big-six energy suppliers to announce another set of price increases, with its gas going up by 19% and electricity by 10%. Richard Lloyd, of the consumer association Which?, said the price rises were an unwelcome move, as people are already having to cut back on essentials, and so this could be a cold winter for many. The Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, said it highlighted the need to change from generating electricity by burning gas and coal, and move to alternatives like renewables and nuclear power.
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