Ofgem prepares to investigate energy market

 
Kate McCann
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ENERGY regulator Ofgem is preparing to launch its biggest-ever investigation into the UK energy market this week, amid growing anger from consumers about high prices and poor customer service.

The investigation will be undertaken by the Competition and Markets Authority and is set to take 18 months to complete.

It comes after consumer watchdog Which revealed last week that complaints about energy companies in the first quarter of 2014 rose to an all-time high of 1.7m, a 15 per cent increase on the same period in the previous year.

Revealing that NPower had the highest number of complaints, 83 per 1,000 customers, Which executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Yet again millions of customers are being let down by poor service from the Big Six energy companies. This has to change.

“If they want to improve the low level of consumer trust in the energy market, suppliers must up their game now, rather than wait for the results of a competition review.”

Scottish Power received the lowest number of complaints according to Which, 13 for every 1000 people using the company for their energy supply.

NPower is currently being investigated by Ofgem over the late-billing of customers.

“Ofgem is requiring NPower to resolve major billing issues no later than the end of August 2014 and publish monthly progress updates on its website,” the regulator said in a statement, adding: “Failure to meet monthly targets will result in npower ceasing all proactive telesales to new customers until they are met.”

Both Ofgem and Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, declined to comment on the investigation, which is expected to be announced this week.