Government to stop 'outrageous' energy price hikes
Updated on 21 September 2010
The government may step in if gas and electricity providers continue to impose "outrageous" hidden price hikes on customers, as winter draws in.
Energy Secretary Chris Huhne warned the practice must stop.
Speaking from the Liberal Democrat party conference in Liverpool, Mr Huhne said: "It is outrageous that energy companies have been able to hike up prices without even bothering to tell their customers. I can't think of another example where you start paying more for something without being told about it."
He is due to address the conference in a speech later today.
His warning to energy firms follows regulator Ofgem's launch of a consultation into changing elements of the rules over energy prices.
At the moment, customers can be notified of price alterations up to 65 days after they have already been imposed – something Mr Huhne, and Ofgem, want to change.
"The best result for consumers will be if energy companies don't block the changes that Ofgem will propose," he said.
"But if they do I won't hesitate to use my powers to end for good the practice of surprise energy bill hikes if that's what consultation shows to be necessary."
Mr Huhne also yesterday proposed that green taxes should make up 10 per cent of government revenue by 2015, a motion approved by the party.
The Liberal Democrat conference continues today without the party leader Nick Clegg, who reassured activists yesterday that the coalition government was the "right government for right now".
Mr Clegg flies today to represent Britain at a United Nations summit in New York and Washington.