MPs grill 'Big Six' energy suppliers at select committee hearing

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Big wig representatives of the UK's 'Big Six' energy suppliers were grilled yesterday (October 29) by MPs over the latest batch of energy bill increases.

Four out of the six energy suppliers have raised their energy bills this year, causing complaints from a number of hard up energy consumers, as such, the MPs at the select committee hearing were determined to get some answers in a lengthy four-hour session.

Facing the MPs questions at the select committee hearing were Tony Cocker, Chief Executive E.On, William Morris, Managing Director, SSE, Guy Johnson, External Affairs Director, npower, Neil Clitheroe, Chief Executive Retail and Generation, Scottish Power, Ian Peters, Managing Director, British Gas and Martin Lawrence, Managing Director, EDF.

In the last few weeks a number of 'Big Six' energy firms have risen their energy bills. Scottish Power was the most recent to do so, but prior to them, npower, British Gas and SSE also raised their energy bills in recent weeks.

As well as being pressed on explaining such rises, the energy big wigs were also questioned about huge bonuses and where exactly they were getting their energy supplies from.

Whilst a number of the energy firm representatives put the blame on bill rises on new government legislation on green energy, raising wholesale costs, networks costs and regulator costs were also blamed.

Others at the hearing suggested the problem was far deeper however.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, from OVO Energy, blasted the current set up of the energy market.

He said: "If you don't have effective competition in a retail market then you are always going to be trying to find out where the money has gone and time and time again you will hear very clever, very complex, very confusing answers and you will never get to the bottom of it.

"Effective competition is the only solution to lower bills."

Labour leader, Ed Miliband, was even more critical of the UK energy market and its suppliers.

He said: "I think everybody knows by now that the market's not working. There are still some people who are trying to defend that broken market - the energy companies, this Government - but I am determined we act.

"Frankly, hard-pressed families need someone who'll stand up for them. That's what I'm doing and that's what I'll do as prime minister."

Many of the 'Big Six' firms are part of the government's Green Deal. Under the scheme, energy consumers can seek loans on measures to improve the energy efficiency of their homes such as new boilers and wall insulation.

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