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Huhne under fire as power boss warns of further rises

Families have been told to brace themselves for steep energy price rises this winter by the boss of Britain’s largest power company.

Sir Roger Carr, the chairman of Centrica, which owns British Gas, said further increases were inevitable after Scottish Power revealed it would raise prices by an eye-watering 20 per cent for gas and ten per cent for electricity.

Sir Roger admitted that a reason for the rise was the Government’s ‘decarbonisation’ agenda, which is forcing householders to pay more for ‘green’ energy.

His warning about the inevitability of across-the-board price increases came as Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, showed no sign of backing down over the extra costs imposed by the government’s green agenda.

Instead, he told households to dodge the price hikes by ‘shopping around’.

Sir Roger said customers should not be surprised that some of the costs involved in ‘decarbonising’ power generation had to be recouped through higher bills.

‘Ofgem [the regulator] has said that it would see over the next decade a dual fee bill going up by £500 a year for a typical consumer and that’s related to decarbonisation rather than market forces,’ he said.

His remarks make a mockery of the advice issued by Mr Huhne, a millionaire, who urged customers to ‘vote with their feet’ while refusing to water down obligations for renewable energy.

Experts say customers are paying 20 per cent too much thanks to ‘green stealth taxes’.

Mr Huhne said: ‘Consumers don’t have to take price increases lying down. If an energy company hits you with a price increase, you can hit them back where it hurts – by shopping around.’

Adam Scorer, of Consumer Focus, said: ‘You can incite customers to switch all you want but there is nowhere for them to go.

‘It is too difficult for operators outside the “big six” to enter the market and only Chris Huhne or the regulator Ofgem can refer them to the Competition Commission, which so far he has failed to do.’

Meg Hillier, shadow energy secretary, said: ‘Chris Huhne and this Tory-led government are talking tough but doing little to protect consumers.

‘Clearly, Chris Huhne is not taking these price hikes seriously.’