Ofgem in last warning for the Big Six

ENERGY suppliers were yesterday issued with a “last chance” warning over soaring gas and electricity bills.

The “big six” companies – British Gas owner Centrica, EDF, npower, E.on, Scottish Power and SSE – were told by the industry watchdog Ofgem they face a full-scale inquiry if they do not clean up their act.

They have eight weeks to respond to criticism in a review. Ofgem said consumers are baffled by the number and complexity of tariffs on offer. The total has risen from 180 to 300 since 2008 and only 20 per cent of bill payers are regularly switching.

Competition is stifled because the big suppliers have a stranglehold on electricity generation. Ofgem has ordered the big six to sell off 20 per cent of their power stations. An Ofgem spokesman said: “In 2008 we gave them a left hook to try to knock some sense into them and now we’re giving them the right hook.”

Christine McGourty, director of Energy UK, said: “Energy companies will be examining Ofgem’s findings carefully and will work closely with the regulator to ensure that the market is working effectively for consumers in every way possible.”

Energy secretary Chris Huhne welcomed Ofgem’s proposals.