Energy price war set to hot up as firms vow to cut switching times

Suzie Neuwirth

ENERGY companies have agreed to halve switching times by the end of the year, the government said yesterday, ramping up the pressure on the big six to lower their prices.

The percentage of customers switching to smaller suppliers to find cheaper deals hit a record 43 per cent last month according to Energy UK, amid growing political furore into rising energy bills and the cost of living.

New research from energy price comparison service UK Power says that the big six are losing customers to smaller rivals at such a rate that they will control less than half the market in 2019.

Independent suppliers Ovo and First Utility recently sparked off a price war, undercutting the big six by offering an annual tariff below £1,000.

“Over two million people switched energy supplier between October last year and March this year, as competition is now hotting up,” said energy secretary Ed Davey. “Some of the new smaller suppliers are cutting prices and forcing bigger players to respond, so check out today’s deals.”

Proposed technical changes to enable faster switching by the end of the year are in the final approval stages with the regulator Ofgem.

Ofgem is opening a consultation next month on how to introduce the government’s long-term target of 24 hour switching, which will involve plans to roll out 53 million smart meters by the end of the decade.

“The energy industry believes in faster switching and will make it a reality for customers as quickly as we can and as soon as the legal and technical challenges are overcome,” said Energy UK.