The business on...Alistair Buchanan, Chief executive, Ofgem
Saturday 27 November 2010
The man taking on Britain's greedy energy companies at last?
The very same, although you might ask why it has taken so long: Mr Buchanan has run Ofgem, theregulator that polices the gas and electricity companies, since 2003. In his defence, there have been a string of reviews and investigations on his watch. We'll have to see what thelatest probe, unveiled yesterday, comes up with.
Is he a tough cookie?
He describes himself as an "energy anorak", which doesn't bode well. But he does have a record of taking on big companies – Ofgem once fined National Grid £42m. In practice, he's a diplomat, more likely to be found doing deals in a backroom than coshing the energy bosses in public.
Is he too close to these guys?
He certainly knows them very well. He's a chartered accountant by trade, but spent most of his pre-Ofgem career working in the City as anequities analyst. He specialised in the energy sector.
Not another fat cat?
Let's put it this way: on a salary of £275,000 a year, he's probably not struggling to pay the fuel bills on the home in Surrey he shares with his wife and three children.
This isn't sounding too hopeful.
Let's be fair: Ofgem has stood up for consumers and Mr Buchanan has come in for a fair amount of stick from the big energy companies, which suggests he's doing something right. The energy sector is fiendishly complicated, with environmental taxes, regulation and competition issues all having an impact on the bills that householders pay.
But is he one of us?
Well, he's a classical music nut who also likes his rugby – he's a season ticket-holder at Wasps – so he's fairly normal, if that's what you mean.
Let's cut to the chase: is he going to bring my bills down?
Probably not, in an era when energy companies are being forced to spend billions on infrastructure. But he's tough enough to stop them piling all the pain on to you.
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