ScottishPower cuts gas prices


ScottishPower has become the last of the big six energy companies to announce reductions in its tariffs.

The firm said around 1.4 million domestic gas customers would receive lower gas bills from next month, with prices set to fall by an average of five per cent.

This was said to equate to an annual reduction of £36 for both dual fuel and gas only monthly direct debit customers.

Neil Clitheroe, ScottishPower's CEO of Energy Retail and Generation, said: "Our customers want competitive prices from a responsible supplier.

"We understand that household budgets are tight in these tough economic times and with this in mind we are pleased to be able to pass on lower prices and help our customers when we can.

"In October, we pledged not to increase standard prices for gas and electricity over the winter months, extending until at least April 1, 2012."

The reduction will become effective on February 27.

But the supplier warned that the fast-growing global demand for energy would inevitably lead to higher prices in the long term.

Mr Clitheroe said ScottishPower had already secured the majority of its "energy requirements" for this winter.

"It is important that we do this to ensure we have sufficient supplies when our customers need them and to protect customers from the impact of volatile movements in the wholesale energy market," he said.

However he added: "Although there has been a short-term fluctuation in the wholesale gas market that has allowed us to pass on today's reductions, the global demand for energy is increasing faster than its supply. This will inevitably lead to higher energy costs in the long term."

Customers were advised to contact their supplier to ensure they were on the best tariff for their circumstances.

The announcement from ScottishPower came after E.ON announced a 6% fall in electricity bills, benefiting 3.7 million customers.

This move will also come into force from February 27, shaving £31 off the average annual bill. But the group left gas prices unchanged.

E.ON and ScottishPower were the final two of the big six suppliers to announce a cut in recent days after falls in wholesale prices, although none has yet cut both gas and electricity.

British Gas last week cut bills for more than five million customers by making an instant average cut of 5% in its standard electricity tariff.

Southern Electric and Swalec owner SSE said it would cut the price of household gas by 4.5% from March 26, while French-owned rival EDF cut gas prices by 5% from February 7.

But the falls in prices across the big six firms do not compensate for recent increases.

All six put prices of gas and electricity up over the summer or autumn following increases last winter, blaming rising wholesale costs.

And suppliers have been accused of failing to cut prices as quickly as they put them up.

Adam Scorer, director of policy and public affairs at Consumer Focus, said: "It's good to have seen such a quick series of price reductions. We hope this shows suppliers are waking up to the need for customers to see rapid cuts when wholesale prices are low and that this trend will continue if wholesale costs carry on falling.

"But customers will still be paying a lot more for their energy than they were a year ago and there will still be almost seven million households in fuel poverty."

E.ON's changes will reduce the average dual fuel bill paid by direct debit by £30 to £1,160, while a dual fuel customer paying by quarterly cash or cheque will see their bill fall by £31 to £1,223.