James Moore: Some issues for Ofgem to fix before the winter
James Moore is the Independent's Associate Business Editor and writes the Outlook City comment column from Tuesday to Friday. He also has a keen interest in disability issues and when not attempting to further injure himself playing wheelchair basketball.
Thursday 05 April 2012
Outlook Utilities aren't usually regarded as exciting but they're doing their best to change that. In the City there's an entertaining little face-off between the French giant GDF Suez, which owns most of International Power, and its minority shareholders who have clearly had enough of utilities being sold off on the cheap.
Closer to home (most of International Power's business is, well, international) one of those companies that did get in cheap, Germany's E.On, might have to pay a price for some of its more questionable practices on these shores if Ofgem's mis-selling probe comes even close to finding firm evidence of the malpractice the industry's critics have for years been claiming is rife.
A regulator which made the Financial Services Authority look like a gorilla during the height of the latter's "light touch" phase appears to be growing some teeth. And not before time, with figures suggesting that consumers owe a frightening £478m to their energy suppliers. Frightening because there is a very real prospect that the fuel poverty the figure implies is rife may very well lead to deaths next winter. Something to think about, that, as Mr Cameron poses for pics at the first "Big Society Fund" project.
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