Gas-fired power ban could add 5% to electricity bills

CONSUMERS COULD face a rise in electricity bills of at least 5 per cent if the Government extends its current ban on new gas-fired power stations, the industry watchdog warned yesterday.

The director general of the electricity regulator Offer, Professor Stephen Littlechild, said the ban would prevent new companies from entering the generation market and would make it easier for existing players to maintain higher prices.

Mr Littlechild said that competitive pressure was expected to reduce wholesale electricity prices by at least 10 per cent over the next five years. Around half of this saving would be passed on to customers in the form of lower bills.

But consumers would miss out on these price reductions if the Government's energy review, due to be published shortly, extended the present moratorium on gas-fired plants beyond its June deadline, he said.

There has been speculation that the Government could call a halt to the construction of such stations in an attempt to boost Britain's ailing coal industry.

"There is a danger that the moratorium could keep prices higher than they otherwise should be," Mr Littlechild said at the launch of Offer's annual report.

The regulator said that he might ask large generators such as National Power and PowerGen to sell some of their power stations to increase competition and push down prices. He did not rule out a referral to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to force generators to shed capacity.

Offer's annual report showed that complaints to London Electricity, the capital's power distributor, doubled during 1997 and reached their highest level since 1992.

The increase in complaints almost cost the company the Charter Mark, the Government's award for firms with excellent standards of service, the report revealed.

London Electricity, owned by Entergy of the US, managed to retain the mark only after an inquiry concluded that it had taken remedial action and that complaints were falling in the first part of this year.

The company blamed the problem on a reorganisation of its customer services and said that complaints in the first five months of the year were down by 12 per cent over the same period a year ago.

Seeboard registered a 49 per cent increase in complaints, while Scottish Power saw the number of disgruntled customers rise by 42 per cent.

However, the overall level of complaints fell 6 per cent in 1997 to 6,622. The average domestic bill was down by around pounds 15 to pounds 255 a year, the report said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments