Sunday, March 11, 2007

The First In A Long Line Of Price Drops - Hopefully

Hello There My Friends,

Gas ring
Gas prices are on the way down
After months of furious debate, British Gas customers will see their energy bills fall on Monday next week.

Gas prices will be reduced by 17% and electricity by 11%. The average annual dual fuel bill will fall by £167 to £953, British Gas has said.

Since British Gas made its announcement in February, four out of the UK's six biggest energy suppliers have followed suit and pledged to lower prices.

Since 2002, British Gas has increased gas prices seven times and electricity tariffs six times.

This is a step in the right direction and will help the many families who struggle to pay their energy bills
Karen Darby, Simplyswitch

The energy giant last cut prices in early 2000.

The company, owned by Centrica, has been criticised for its high tariffs, which consumer groups say affect vulnerable consumers.

Wholesale prices

Wholesale gas prices have fallen by about 50% over the past six months.

In response, suppliers have started to lower their domestic energy prices.

"As wholesale costs have fallen sharply in recent months, a price cut from British Gas is not before time," said Karen Darby, chief executive officer of energy switching website Simplyswitch.

"This is a step in the right direction and will help the many families who struggle to pay their energy bills. However, as its energy prices have rocketed in recent years, the company still has some way to go to redress the balance," Ms Darby added.

Experts suggest the latest reductions could help British Gas to hang on to its customers.

More than four million people switched their electricity or gas supplier last year in a bid to cut their bills, recent figures from energy regulator Ofgem showed.

British Gas has lost about one million customers during the past 12 months, has made over 1300 staff redundant as a result and in an effort to reduce costs and has closed down their Stokeley Park office. Its interesting to note that they also appear to be struggling with reaching their EEC targets as their Here to Help programme is being seen by many as an expensive solution when compared to other utility funded energy efficiency programmes. For each property that is a "no measure", BG charges the Social Housing Provider or Council £25 + VAT for the survey cost - okay the scheme incorporates a benefits entitlement check (plus signposting to specific charity partners) but it doesnt include any follow up of such advice so its unrealistic to assume that every person who experiences a positive check actually gets the money that they are entitled to thereafter?

Social Housing Providers - take note and Make Good Choices!

And before anyone goes switching to British Gas thinking that they may save some money, take a long hard and close look at their package - including the fact that BG are also introducing a £4.50 quarterly penalty fine charge for ALL customers who do not pay their bills by direct debit - that includes online payments ! Trading Standards have described this policy decision as "astonishing" and also "unlawful".

Finally don't always think that USwitch is the best site for advice either - they recommend energy suppliers that may offer deals in your region but only promoting the energy suppliers that will pay USwitch a referral fee. As my good friend Katie from Bolton assures me, you are far better to seek advice from Energywatch!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

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