London Electricity in dash for gas

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The Independent Online
LONDON Electricity has started a marketing campaign to attract domestic gas customers ahead of the end of the British Gas monopoly in two years.

The company, which already supplies businesses with gas, is writing to some households asking them to register to be among the first to able to buy their gas from a new supplier .

A spokesman for London Electricity said: 'If we do not make this sort of move, others will. The idea is to register people who might show an interest and to make the first contact.'

London is also targeting those using more than 2,500 therms a year who may not know they can already choose a supplier other than British Gas. It believes there are thousands of large domestic users and small businesses in that category in the M25 area. The average household consumes 650 therms.

London Electricity said that it could undercut British Gas tariffs by up to 10 per cent and is telling potential customers that they can make immediate savings of pounds 100 on their annual bill.

In 1996 5 per cent of the market, now monopolised by British Gas, will be to choose their supplier. The following year a further 5 per cent will be allowed to choose, with the market opening completely in 1998. The mechanism for introducing competition in domestic gas supply is the subject of a consultation now underway by the industry regulator, Ofgas.

Companies, including most regional electricity firms and some North Sea producers, are already supplying gas to industrial and commercial customers. London Electricity supplies gas through a joint venture with Total, the oil company, and has 1,200 customers.