Leading energy provider, Co-operative Energy, has welcomed the energy regulator Ofgem’s announcement that it will investigate the Big Six energy suppliers but is urging the Government to not hide behind the enquiry and to deliver on much needed market reforms.
The energy regulator has asked the competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), to investigate Britain's energy companies in an effort to restore trust in the sector after public outrage over increasing domestic fuel bills.
Ramsay Dunning, general manager of Co-operative Energy is concerned that as the outcome of the investigation is unlikely to be known for two years, the Government may use this as a stalling tactic in helping to fix some of the fundamental issues affecting the energy market, which continue to hit weary consumers where it hurts – in their pockets.
He said: “We wholeheartedly support the move to take an in-depth look at the practices of the Big Six. They have neglected to serve customers in the best way that they could so to have this recognition at last is to be welcomed.
“However, waiting for two years for an outcome is worrying and there is a potential risk that the Government could hide behind the investigation and delay much needed reforms. We would urge the Government to continue to go ahead with some of the urgent steps which need to be taken now rather than wait until the findings are known before attempting to put the market right.
“Sensible investment in the energy infrastructure and new forms of energy needs to be encouraged and a complete reform of the wholesale market is still essential to ensure true competition and transparency for consumers. Creating a more competitive market which is inclusive for smaller, independent suppliers will help to drive down prices quickly so that consumers can see some instant action.”
The Big Six suppliers control 95% of the market for retail supply and Ofgem’s own review concluded that consumer trust had fallen with no clear evidence that companies had tried to reduce costs while bills increased fourfold in just three years.
Added Ramsay Dunning: “The creation of an impartial, free to use information and comparison service as a real alternative to commission-based sales sites is also key to restoring customer trust and confidence in the energy market and we’re concerned that the reality of this happening may be put on the back burner while the investigation continues. This can’t be allowed to happen as our own independent research showed that many consumers feel they are having the wool pulled over their eyes. Establishing a properly regulated, Government-backed alternative to existing sales sites represents a further step forward in creating greater transparency across the energy sector and we don’t want anything to get in the way of this.
"Consumers need to be put first by the energy companies and we will continue to do whatever we can to campaign on their behalf. We need the Government to do the same and ensure that energy customers see some instant action and that the market begins to operate in their best interests.”
Co-operative Energy, which is part of the Midcounties Co-operative, launched in 2011 and now has 200,000 customers.